Friday, January 31, 2014

MEDIA STATEMENT

SUBMISSIONS ON NATIONAL RHINO STRATEGY CLOSE ON 31 JANUARY 2014

30 JANUARY 2014 



The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is reviewing the National Strategy for the Safety and Security of Rhinoceros Populations in South Africa, as part of a plethora of measures being undertaken to ensure all steps taken to address the scourge of rhino poaching in South Africa are relevant and effective.

The review of the strategy will assist in addressing emerging issues and potential gaps to further strengthen interventions being implemented to curb the poaching of rhino.

In addition, NGOs, non-profit organisations (NPO), fund raisers, rhino conservation and anti-poaching service providers, and donors involved in rhino-related projects were requested to provide the Department of Environmental Affairs with details relating to their initiatives by 7 February 2014 (link for the form below). The aims of this process are to:

• Identify priority areas that require additional assistance and gaps that must be addressed;
• Identify opportunities to collaborate, cooperate or consolidate projects / initiatives or parts thereof;
• Develop criteria to assist in determining whether NPOs, NGOs or individuals involved in rhino related activities are making a positive contribution towards the fight against rhino poaching and the conservation of the species.

This comes as the total number of rhino poached in South Africa since the beginning of 2014 increased to 86. A total of 21 poachers have been arrested in the past month.

The highest number of rhino poached – 63 – were killed for their horns in the Kruger National Park. Since New Year, 8 rhino have been poached in KwaZulu-Natal, 6 in Limpopo, 4 in the Free State, 3 in Mpumalanga and 2 in North West.

South Africans and members of the international community are encouraged to report information regarding rhino poaching and related tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

To access the National Strategy for the Safety and Security of Rhinoceros Populations in South Africa, click on the link below:
https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/nationalstrategy_rhinopopulation_safetysecurity.pdf

To access the template, click on the link below:https://www.environment.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/forms/templatesorganisations_submittinginformation_rhinoprojects.doc

For media inquiries contact Albi Modise on 083 490 2871

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS ON 30 JANUARY 2014





Thursday, January 30, 2014

Poachers Update

29/01/14 @22h30 - Stolsnek: In an intelligence driven operation between #Stolsnek, #Malelane rangers and the @SA_Police, contact was made with a group of three suspected rhino poachers. During contact, 1 suspect was fatally wounded, 1 arrested and 1 managed to escape. A .300 Win Mag with a silencer, ammo and other hunting equipment were recovered. Follow up investigations are underway.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hunt Of Lions From Kruger National Park Advert Hogwash

South African National Parks (SANParks) read with dismay the unfortunate advertisement and comments on social media platforms that have been doing rounds, referring to a hunt of two troublesome lions allegedly originating from the Kruger National Park (KNP).

This according to KNP Managing Executive, Mr. Abe Sibiya, who said, Kruger National ...Park would like to distance itself from the advertisement and its author/s… “as there is no link between KNP and those that are involved with this hunting activity. KNP do not remove problematic lions from the KNP to be hunted elsewhere.”

He said in actual fact there has been a concerning trend in recent times where certain individuals have fraudulently attached Kruger National Parks name and those of key employees in unscrupulous hunting business ventures all in an effort to attract unsuspecting clients. “A case in point is a fraudulent letter bearing the forged signatures of some of the key management personnel in the park authorizing a hunt within the Makuya Game Reserve in Limpopo managed by the provincial government.”

According to Sibiya the circumstance surrounding this incident are being investigated by the SANParks Environmental Crime Investigations… “and legal advice is also being sought on how to pursue criminal charges against the perpetrators.

Issued by:
South African National Parks Corporate Communications

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Safari With Mark From 25 January 2014


25 January 2014

Route: Numbi tar - PK - Napi - Skukuza

General game sightings: Kudu, zebra, impala, warthog, hippo, Nile crocodile, waterbuck, giraffe and steenbok

The only great sighting for the afternoon drive was a herd of elephant that crossed over napi heading east. Great photos could be taken of this herd with lots of youngsters in between the adults.

26 January 2014

Route: Kruger gate road - Doispan - Watergat - Napi - PK - Napi - Skukuza

General sightings spotted: giraffe, kudu, impala, waterbuck, warthog, steenbok, vervet monkeys and zebra

The first animal we came across this morning was a male leopard walking down the Kruger gate road heading towards doispan. Brilliant sighting as he walked right next to the open vehicle and slowly moved off the road into the bush. We spent approximately 20min with him and had no other cars around us.

On Napi we also found 3 male cheetahs walking parallel with the road, scent marking their territory. As the first car approached us, so they slowly moved off into the bush.

A great herd (app 300 ) of buffalo between napi boulders entrance and exit.Only a single rhino sighting for the day.

After breakfast and dropping a guest off, we headed back down napi and turned in at shitlhave dam. There we found 5 male lions lying on the dam wall.

Approximately  50m before the flat rocks on napi we found another leopard lying in a Marola tree enjoying the cool weather.

The afternoon drive was brilliant with a short trip up the tahokwane tar. We came across a pride of lions (2 males 2 females and 5 cubs). They got up and came to lay right next to our vehicle.

Further to this we had a hippo walk across the road in front of us. On our return we found a Hyena den with 2 females feeding the young.

Overall a great days game viewing.

27 January 2014

Route: Napi - H3 - Afsaal - Berg n dal - H3 - Skukuza

General animal sightings: Kudu, giraffe, warthog, impala, steenbok, zebra and Rhino

On our way to breakfast we found a large herd (300+) buffalo just past the entrance to Jock Safari lodge.

After breakfast we decided to head South to Berg en dal. We stopped off at renosterpan and approx 1.3kms from the tar found 2 male lions, sleeping approximately 3m off the road. Great photos taken as we were the only ones with these lions for approx 25min. We left them still lying flat as a
carpet.

Great elephant sightings throughout the day. Approximately 25 species of bird seen between Afsaal and Berg n dal.

On our return we saw two female ostriches approximately 200m before the little jock.

A great days game viewing considering the rain throughout the day..

Keep watching for more!!

On Safari With Curtis From 24 January 2014


24 January 2014

Today was the worst part of a safari for most people - as six guests would be leaving us today. Luckily their transfer to Johannesburg was not happening until 10:00 hours so we went on a final safari to try and get some more great sightings.

We went out with the aim of finding Zebras, something which had eluded us for the last three days, but not today as we came across a family herd on the road. We also got Impala, Kudu, Giraffe and Baboon before coming across a female Rhino with her young calf. Lots of Elephants were seen including big Bulls, females and young calf’s.

We then carried on to the gate as it was time for a fond farewell to some of my guests as they continued their travels.

Left with two guests we made our way on the afternoon safari.

The heat of the day made it a very quiet drive although we did spot more Impala, Zebra, Warthog, Kudu and Waterbuck. As well as lots of Elephants and Rhino. Two Rhino in  particular were lovely as we found them having a mud bath, every now and again sitting and rolling around getting themselves covered in mud before standing up and having a scratch on a nearby tree stump.

25 January 2014

Today was the last day of the safari for my final two guests, normally we would take them out for another safari early in the morning before they leave the park. Unfortunately one of my guests did not feel to good during the night so we cancelled the safari and had a relaxing morning in the lodge.

Late this morning I transferred the guests up to Nelspruit to the City bug shuttle where they caught their transfer to Johannesburg to start the next instalment of their South African travels.

Keep watching for more safari updates as more guests enter the park!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Conservation Services National Project of the SANParks Honorary Rangers

Veterinary and Wildlife services

Our National Parks are not only havens for our plants and animals, it is also a hive of conservation activities.
...
The parks offer an invaluable source for scientific studies of our national environment. Many dedicated scientist study all kinds of nature related topics. Some include the study of animal diseases, the influence of fire, rainfall and climatic conditions, the role and distribution of plant communities, geology and animal population dynamics.

There are also teams involved in the management of sick and injured animals, and the translocation of animals to help strengthen and protect animal genetics and restore the natural occurrence of animal populations in areas where populations of specific species had been eradicated or weakened.

Often these dedicated people work with limited budgets, and have to battle to get important work done.

The support of these activities is a priority focus area for the SANParks Honorary Rangers. Many projects have been launched to assist in these activities.

For more information: http://www.sanparksvolunteers.org/



On Safari with Karen From 20 January 2014


20 January 2014

After picking up guests we drove to Phabeni Gate to enter park, this way avoiding all the potholes and having a nice scenic drive as a bonus.

We entered the park and straight away bumped into some impalas hiding in the bush. 

We had a great drive down Doispane with more impalas, kudu, warthog, buffalo and pretty birds like a woodlands kingfisher and lilac breasted rollers.

Furthermore we spend some time at Nyamundwa dam with hippos playing, rhinos bathing close by and buffalo relaxing on the other side. Not to forget all the water birds. 

While continuing on Doispane we came across a couple of elephant encounters while the Marula trees drop their fruits. As there were no other cars we had those to ourselves which made it great. 

After the busy road with sightings we continued down Skukuza road, Napi to Pretoriuskop. On the way we spotted a crash of rhinos, some zebras with youngsters and giraffes.

We arrived at Pretoriuskop at 6:15pm! All in all a very good start to this safari,

Let's see what tomorrow will bring!


21 January 2014

Today we woke up early and after a nice cup of coffee or tea we left the camp at 6am. Within a couple of kilometres we saw an elephant mum lazily feeding with her calf. They did not feel intruded by our presence so we sat and enjoyed the sighting as long as we could still see them. It was a good start to the day .

Further on Napi we came across buffalo close by the road and saw a rhino trying it on with his girlfriend. He sniffed her hindquarters and grunted and snorted and it looked like he was going to mount, but she wouldn't have none of that and turned around to snort back. As they then disappeared in the bush who knows what happened later...

On the way to breakfast at Skukuza we also saw giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, kudu and impala. We had a good day for spotting raptors too: martial eagle, brown snake eagle, yellow billed kite and a bateleur.

After breakfast we followed a tip from our colleague Frank and we were lucky enough to find a cheetah at the Renosterkoppies! He was relaxing under a tree keeping an eye on the impalas feeding close by. But those impalas had seen the cheetah as well and were way out of reach for the cheetah so he just rolled over and didn't bother getting up.

On the way back to camp via the H3 and once again Napi we spotted some new animals that we hadn't seen this safari yet: ground hornbills, steenbok, waterbuck, Chameleon, bushbuck, baboons, vervet monkeys and while standing at an elephant sighting we even had a leopard cross 50m in front of us. Unfortunately he was so quick that not everyone saw it and he had disappeared into the bush when we pulled up to the spot.

After a siesta in camp 2 of the guests went on a sunset safari while I took the other two back into the park for a short dash around Fayi Loop. At first it looked like a quiet drive but then we had a road block in the shape of a big elephant bull that was walking leisurly ahead of us. Being patient we followed at a distance and waited till he got off the road. And then just around a couple of corners we saw another elephant happily eating the fallen marulas in the middle of the road. It was a great sighting to watch. Before returning to camp we also spotted a black shouldered kite, leopard tortoise and 3 very pretty kudu bulls.

Tomorrow it's going to be an early day, so let's see if we have as much luck!


22 January 2014

Last night's sunset drive was highly successful with, apart from a lovely sunset, plenty of owl sightings, nightjars, a rain tree, elephant, lions, hyena and wild dog!

This morning we started early again to see if we could find some great sightings. In the crisp morning air we followed Albassini road up to Doispane. The drive started quiet with just a couple of scrub hares, but when the sun started warming us we came across a couple of elephants snoozing and feeding. And a little while later we had our daylight encounter with the same lions that were seen on the sunset drive. This was a mating couple and we decided to hang around for a while. In the hour we spend watching those lions they mated 3 times! The second time was close to us and in plain view and the third time there were very few cars and no engines running that we had the privilege of hearing how noisy lions mate!!

This made a great start of the day and we only left because some stomachs started rumbling. On the way to breakfast we also came across impalas, kudu, hippos, chameleon, more elephants, leopard tortoises, zebras, giraffe and warthogs.

After a nice breakfast at the golfclub with the hippos close by, we stopped at Lake Panic to have a great view of all the waterbirds and our first sighting of a crocodile. And to make it easy he was lying right under the hide's "window". If we would have stuck out an arm we could have pet it so close! We also saw 2 bushbucks grazing, dragonflies mating, a green backed heron fishing and a fish eagle.

While leaving the hide we got a tip from another visitor that wild dogs were close to Skukuza crossroads, so we went off to look for them. We got at the sight and we were the luckiest people as right at that moment the wild dogs decided to stand up and reposition. We stayed for a while with dogs continuously standing up and lying down again until they were all comfortably back to snoozing in the heat of the day. Another great sighting!!

The way back towards camp via Napi was hot but we saw more elephants and this time a herd of females and youngsters, some of which crossed the road next to us, just before we entered the camp again.

After a siesta we went back out in the afternoon and came across a buffalo in the reeds at the first drainage line we came across. On the way to Shitlhave dam we saw 3 more. At the dam we saw another crocodile sunning himself with his mouth wide open. Also there were waterbucks and we saw a terrapin.

On the crossroads with Numbi road we then saw this lone young elephant cow with a calf that is about a year old. The calf had too much fun chasing at the cars while jiggling its trunk, throwing leaves and sometimes even trumpeting that he kept at it until he ran out of energy. All the while the mother just lazily kept on grazing barely keeping an eye on her youngster. I think this young boy is going to be a handful growing up with no other elephants around than its young mother!

The rest of the afternoon drive we enjoyed ourselves watching kudus, impalas, hippos, and various birds like white fronted bee-eaters, yellow billed kite, tawny eagle, bateleur, yellow billed hornbill, barn swallows and fighting woodlands kingfishers.

Tomorrow will be the last day and we will start bright and early again.


23 January 2014

As today would be a short drive we decided to start as early as the gate opened. Yesterday we did start early as well, so much so that we did some stargazing while having our morning cup of coffee. After spotting Scorpio and the Southern Cross we saw the sky lightening in colour telling us it was time to go.

However this morning there were no stars or sunrise, it was actually raining. This caused us to see a new animal almost straight away as the rain made the frogs come out. But unfortunately it made our start a bit cold.

Today was a day of babies. It took a while before we saw mammals but we were rewarded a glimpse of a rhino with her small calf and an impala herd with babies. Furthermore we had an amazing sighting of 7 hyenas and 2 pups that were calling and a male that was trying to mount one of the females (but she wanted none of that). And to top it off we encountered two separate herds of elephants with very young calves, 1 even crossing the road in front of us giving us a good look.

Even though it was cold and rainy in the morning we saw leopard tortoise, hinged tortoise, impalas, kudus, giraffe, warthog, baboons (also with a baby), the sun which came through the clouds and ended this safari on a high with even more elephants just before the exit. 

After a quick stop at Numbi gate it was time for the return journey. The slalom around the potholes from Numbi Gate to Nelspruit completed the safari. I thank Aaron, Seth, Ian and Eva for joining me on this wonderful trip!!

Keep watching for more updates!!


On Safari With Curtis from 21 January 2014


21 January 2014

Picking up the guests and we head towards Numbi gate and Nkambeni Tented Lodge, our accommodation for the next few nights. After settling in and having some lunch we headed off on our first safari of the tour. Leaving at 14:30hours we drove down Albasini spotting Impala, Waterbuck, Hippo, Elephant, not to mention the always beautiful Lilac-breasted Roller perched on a branch.

We turned onto Doispane road coming across a large herd of Impala and about ten Wildebeest, after watching these for a couple of minutes and hearing the alarm calls of the Impalas we moved forward to where a couple of other cars had parked. What we saw when we got there were two Lions, a courting Male and Female, we positioned the car in the hope that the pair would get up and move towards us. We sat and waited.

Twenty minutes later as we were beginning to think that nothing was going to happen when suddenly the female got up and started to walk away, the male quickly followed and they begin to mate, unfortunately behind the bushes. We had missed the action!!!!! However we moved the vehicle to a great view point where we could see both Lions. Our patience was rewarded when the female got up again and the male followed and they proceeded to mate. Now if that's not enough as the guests were watching this something caught my eye and I turned to see another large male Lion walking across the road. This lion ignored the mating pair and headed straight for the herd of Impalas and Wildebeest who smartly scattered every way possible with lots of snorting and alarm calling. In total we spent over an hour at this sighting.

Heading back the way we come we came across Giraffe, more Elephants next to the road and Buffalo walking towards us on the road, as we came along the dirt road towards our camp we also saw Impala, Kudu and a large Male Elephant snacking on the fallen fruit of the Marula tree.

22 January 2014

An early start today, up at 05:00, a quick cup of coffee and we were off. But not for a safari in an open safari vehicle but for a bushwalk in Kruger National Park. A great experience seeing the animals on foot and plenty were seen. Lions spotted up on the copse as the guests drove to the start of their walk and then Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino on the walk. Lots of happy faces when the guests returned to camp.

A quick breakfast and then back in the safari truck for a couple of hours before lunch. Sightings included Impala, Waterbuck, Kudu and Common Duiker. After lunch we went back out spotting more Impala, Kudu, Warthog , a lovely group of Nine Giraffe, Elephants and Hippo.

23 January 2014

Today was the day for six of our guests to go on the Panarama tour, taking in the beautiful views of the third biggest canyon in the world. So as Dean took them on that adventure I took my two remaining guests for another great day in the Kruger. A great start as we came across Elephants next to the road, all making a good snack of the fallen Marula fruit around them. A little further down the road we found 2 adolescent male Lions sitting up on Shabeni Copse (Not quite mature but still not suitable for matting!!)

Driving along Napi was a little bit quiet this morning but we came across Leopard Tortoise as well as Impala, Kudu and plenty of big Bull Elephants. Transport Dam turned out to be very active with Hippos, Waterbuck, two very large bull Elephants as well as so many different species of water bird.

After stopping for lunch at Skukuza we drove back to camp via Doipane and Albasini spotting even more Elephants, Kudu, Impala, Zebra, Wildebeest, Hippo, Cape Buffalo and Warthog as well as a Tawny Eagle sitting on the road.

The great thing about a safari is you never know what might be around the corner and so when we went through Numbi gate to drive the 500metres to our camp it was no surprise to come across Rhino and Elephants and Impala all by the side of the road.

Keep watching for more!!!
 

  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unite Against Poaching

Conservationists are fighting an uphill battle against well equipped and resourced poachers backed by international organised crime syndicates. There is a huge rise in rhino and elephant poaching, and the organised b...ush meat trade is also a considerable threat.

Now you can join hands with Unitrans Volkswagen motors and the SANParks Honorary Rangers, to help our rangers in the war against poaching.

Unite Against Poaching is a collaboration which is aimed as providing critical financial resources, to assist the rangers in our National Parks, in this war.

Unitrans motors will donate an amount out of their pocket, for each Volkswagen motor sold by them. This money is donated to a counter poaching trust used by the SANParks Honorary Rangers to fund counter poaching activities. This includes providing field rangers with the necessary equipment and training to fight the war on the ground in our parks.

You can support this effort by buying your next vehicle, at no extra cost to you, from Unitrans Volkswagen. Simply contact your nearest Unitrans dealer. A complete list of dealers and the latest updates can be found at: http://www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za/

The more vehicles Unitrans Volkswagen sells the more money we receive and the higher the amount is per unit sold. Please help us by considering to buy your vehicle or that of your fleet from a Unitrans Volkswagen dealer (Not just any Volkswagen dealer!).

For more information: http://www.sanparksvolunteers.org/

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

South African National Parks Calls On South Africans To Match Rangers Efforts In Fighting Poaching

The South African National Parks (SANParks) today appealed to the South African public to support efforts by Rangers to stop the massacre of our natural heritage by greedy poachers, who are promise wealth by syndicates.

This year alone, 46 rhino carcases have been discovered in the iconic Kruger N...ational Park which is bearing the brunt of the carnage. Six were from last year and 40 from the past 21 days of 2014. This has brought more resolve from the Rangers Corp to double their efforts to keep the species alive.

This weekend alone saw four armed contacts with Rangers that resulted in the death of seven suspected poachers. Rangers confiscated four hunting rifles, ammunition, poaching equipment and a pair of horns. The death of the seven suspects brings to 11 the number of poachers killed in contacts with our Rangers Corp and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members in the KNP in January 2014. During these incidences two suspected poachers were arrested and eight firearms recovered. These armed contacts take place during the night and present a high level of risk to members of the KNP Rangers Corp.

Well over 80% of the incursions are from the Mozambican side. Multiple incursions of up to 15 heavily armed groups operate in the KNP at any given time especially during the full moon period. They operate in groups of four to six and are aggressive and engage and shoot at the Rangers on sight, creating a daily life threatening situation. The recent recovery of a handgun at a contact scene suggests elevated levels of aggression from the poaching groups. This heightens the fear of losing a ranger to a poacher’s bullet.

Despite all of the above, the Officer Commanding of the Rangers Corp, Major General (RET) Johan Jooste is optimistic that his well thought out long term strategy will bear fruits. “ We brought down the level of poaching incidents last year to 42.6% from 72.6% the previous year, we have also arrested 123 individuals in connection with poaching activities, it is now up to the prosecuting teams, investigators and the SAPS to conclude what we have started. We would like to ask the public, law enforcement agencies and our counterparts in Mozambique, to play their part, match the work that is being done by the Rangers and we will reap the rewards and win this war” concluded Jooste.

Issued by :
South African National Parks

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ongoing Concern For The Selati And Olifants Rivers

The South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced ongoing concern over water pollution threats from the Bosveld Phosphate operation near Phalaborwa. Unauthorized discharge of polluted water from the fertilizer production plant into the Selati River between 30 December 2013 and 5 January 2014 resulted in immediate acute toxicity evidence...d resulting in a massive fish kill.

The Department of Water Affairs, Department of Environmental Affairs and South African National Parks are continuing to cooperate closely on both the operational responses and the investigation associated with this incident. Senior representatives from the Department of Water Affairs’ the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) Directorates and South African National Parks met with the Board of Directors of Bosveld Phosphate last week. A number of immediate response actions are being developed and technical task teams have now been established to deal with both short term and longer-term threats and risks.

On Thursday morning a new spillage was observed by SANParks personnel which drained into the Selati River. This was also revealed to the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, who then accompanied SANParks and DWA CME officials to the spill site on Thursday afternoon. Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi expressed concern and commitment to ensuring that the matter received high priority attention.

Relatively stable weather has been predicted for the next 2 weeks by the SA Weather Services. This will enable the implementation of the immediate response measures by Bosveld Phosphate to alleviate the threat of further spillages. SANParks is however concerned that industry is not adapting fast enough to climate variability in their risk management approaches and that further incidents of this nature may become more frequent. Reacting to the new developments Dr. Stefanie Freitag-Ronaldson said that sincere commitment needs to be shown by Bosveld Phosphate to address the new spillage and its effects as well as to ensure that no further spillages occur. “Real urgency is required from Bosveld Phosphate’s Board and management and the team needs to move fast to avoid a catastrophic ecological disaster” said Freitag-Ronaldson.

The Olifants River is an important river for the economies of South Africa and Mozambique and as a result is highly pressurised. It is also a very important component of the ecosystem of the Kruger National Park. In recent years this river has shown signs of chronic ecological degradation including the disease and death of top aquatic predators such as crocodiles.

Three tourist camps in the Kruger National Park, usually supplied with water from the Olifants River, continue to be supplied by safe potable water from nearby boreholes. A detailed monitoring programme has been implemented by SANParks to evaluate the short, medium and long term impact of these spillages on the aquatic ecosystem.

Issued by:
South African National Parks Kruger National Park Communications

On Safari With Curtis From 17 January 2014


17 January 2014

After picking up guests at the Sasol garage we made my way down to Numbi gate, arriving at approximately 12.45pm. I passed two guests onto Mark and after getting my permit sorted I started my first Nhongo safari with my two guests. We drove along Numbi tar and at about 3km came across a small group of Elephants, 2 females, 1 baby and a large male. We watched the herd for around 15 minutes with the male Elephant crossing the road in front of us to get to the females. The females then subsequently crossed to the other side, just behind us, and the male followed. Soon after, they all disappeared into the grass.

We carried on, coming across Zebra and Wildebeest  from a distance and close sightings of a Warthog family, Impalas and a group of Giraffe as well as 2 other good sightings of Elephant. We also had a good, but quick sighting of a Boomslang (tree snake) crossing the road.

600m past Mtshavu bridge, on doispane road where we came upon a courting pair of lions. To start the pair of Lions were hiding in the shade of some bushes, then after about five minutes the female got up quickly followed by the male and then mated right next to my open vehicle.  An amazing sighting for myself and my guests.

Arrived at Skukuza around 17:30 and got the guests settled into their accommodation before having dinner at the Selati restaurant at 19:30.

18 January 2014

Leaving Skukuza at 05:00am we crossed low level bridge and sand river heading along Tshokwane tar seeing Kudu and Impala, Common Duiker and a solitary female Lion which walked just past our vehicle, after following the lion for around 5 minutes we carried on down the road where we saw plenty more Kudu and Impala, At Leeupan we had sightings of 3 Dagga boys (buffalo Bulls) lying close to the water, numerous waterbirds and a large troupe of Baboons.

After breakfast at Tshokwane picnic spot, with Vervet monkeys all around, we carried on down the H10 spotting  Ostrich and Wildebeest at the Nkumbe Viewpoint, and  more Lion and Buffalo and lots of Elephant, Kudu and Impala and rhino. 

As we turned onto the H4-1, heading back to Skukuza we stopped at the Sunset dam to spot numerous Hippos and Birds, further along the road we spotted Buffalo, lots of Elephants in the river bed, Baboons, Giraffe, Impala and Bushbuck.

We arrived back at Skukuza around 13:30 and will be going out again at 16:00 hours to try and find the Leopard, before dinner at Selati restaurant and then the guests went on their night drive.

19 January 2014

Getting up early we left Skukuza at 05:00 hours heading down Napi towards Petoriuskop for breakfast. Along the way we spotted a leopard walking along the road as well as Hyena, Impala, Rhino, Elephant and Waterbuck.

After breakfast we headed down to Numbi gate to leave Kruger National Park and headed to White River to Lowveld Link where my guests transferred onto their shuttle to go to Johannesburg to continue their South African adventure.

Keep watching for more!!


  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Poaching Update

The total number of rhino poached in South Africa during 2013 increased to 1004, as the number of people arrested for rhino poaching-related offences climbed to 343.

During 2012, 668 rhino ...were poached, while 448 were killed in 2011. Since 2008, 2 778 rhino have been poached in South Africa. A total of 37 rhino have been poached since the start of 2014.

During 2013, the Kruger National Park continued to bear the brunt of rhino poaching losing a total of 606 of the iconic animals to poachers. A total of 114 rhino were poached in Limpopo, 92 in Mpumalanga, 87 in North West and 85 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The number of rhino poachers arrested during 2013 increased considerably with 343 being arrested, 133 of them in the Kruger National Park. In 2012, 267 alleged poachers were arrested. Since the beginning of 2014, 6 alleged poachers have been arrested.

South Africans are urged to report incidents of poaching and tip-offs to the anonymous tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or Crime-Line on 32211.

Issued by:
Department of Environmental Affairs



Friday, January 17, 2014

A New Year A New Safari With Mark

14 January 2014

Dean picks up guests at OR Tambo International Airport and transfers them to Mark ho was waiting for them. After loading onto the open safari vehicles it was out to see what we could find.

Route: Numbi tar – Pretoriuskop - Napi - Napi boulders exit - Napi - Nkambeni

General animals seen were Kudu, zebra, impala, vervet monkeys, warthog, waterbuck and giraffe

On the afternoon drive we had great  rhino sighting with them grazing quiet close to the road. 2 elephant bulls on the road as we entered the Kruger park, approx 50m from Numbi gate. A herd of buffalo crossed over the road just before shithave dam entrance. Great photos could be taken by the guests.

On our way back to camp we saw a male leopard walking on the road. As we approached, it crossed over and walked into the bushes.

Guests are happy and now they would love to see some lions. Let's see what tomorrow holds.

15 January 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi - skukuza - doispan - albaseni - Nkambeni

General animals seen: giraffe, kudu, warthog, blue wildebeest, impala and rhino

Great elephant sightings throughout the day. With herds crossing the road on doispan just past riverlink

2 lioness's lying on klipspringer koppies

In the late afternoon, we found a male leopard lying on the rocks opposite shebeni koppies and stayed with it for approximately 30min. As we were about to leave, it got down from the rocks and walked in front of our open vehicle heading towards the shebeni link road. At the junction it then moved off into tall grass. As we lost sight of him, a female leopard walked out onto the road approximately 300m from our last sighting of the male. She walked towards the Numbi tar and disappeared into the tall grass. All the guests got great photos and videos.

That's all for the day, hopefully we can find great buffalo and lions tomorrow.

16 January 2014

Route: Numbi tar - Napi - H3 - Napi - Albaseni - Doispan - Albaseni
 
General game spotted: kudu, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, rhino, warthog and blue wildebeest

We got a call on the radio regarding lions on Doispan lying sleeping 20m from the tar. We decided to go have a look, as all the other sightings of lions so far have been distant sightings. Found them and while sitting watching them a male and female got up walked closer to us and lay back down. This allowed the guests to get great photos before our return to camp.

Keep watching for more!!

South African National Parks Responds To Elephant Public Outrage

The South African National Parks (SANParks) has responded to a public outcry on its decision to euthanize an elephant that flipped over a vehicle belonging to a visiting British couple injuring the occupants on 30 December 2013.

Speaking from the Kruger National Park, the Managing Executive of this iconic park, Mr. Abe Sibiya said... the incident is a consequence of parks allowing people to enjoy the natural environment; unfortunately some do so in an irresponsible manner. “While it is expected in an environment such as the Kruger National Park that human and animal conflict will always occur, it is also vitally important that members of the public visiting various national parks should always adhere to the rules.”

Sibiya said while the park can understand the public outcry and anger towards the management, it is critical for the public to have confidence on the park management. “The park is managed by adequately qualified officials who are able to make informed and appropriate decisions at any given time.”

According to Sibiya the decision to euthanize the animal was not taken lightly but based on the information from our well experienced Rangers assessment the animal was likely to attack tourist vehicles in the future. “It is for this reason that we appeal to our patrons to act in a responsible manner and give such information as quick as possible rather than share it on social media platforms.”

He said to bring closure to the matter; SANParks would need co-operation from the visitors that took the video. “The law stipulates that evidence such as this should be accompanied by a written statement from eyewitnesses as the footage cannot be the only permissible evidence in order to sanction any fine against the alleged perpetrators.”

“Tourists need to change their behavior when on self-game drives… “we drive this message in our communication at check in points, on our brochures and on the permits. It is highly impossible to have constant policing on holiday makers as the parks resources are already stretched with many operations going on at the same time,” concludes Sibiya.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Adopt So Our Rhino Dont Die


A ray of hope has been cast on the crusade to save the rhino in the form of a historical joint collaboration between South African National Parks (SANParks), Bavaria 0.0% and South Africa’s Big 5 Retailers – Woolworths, Spar, Massmart, Pick... ‘n Pay and divisions of the Shoprite Checkers Group.
ACT NOW!
3 Ways to ADOPT SO OUR RHINO DON'T DIE!
Info online @ http://www.sanparksadopt.org/
0.0% TOLERANCE TO RHINO POACHING
All money raised goes exclusively into the South African National Parks dedicated Rhino Account for Anti-Poaching and is not used for any other purpose.


Dont Give Up On Our Rhino


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Support Lasher Tools In The Fight Against Rhino Poaching

Now gardening, farming and construction can make a difference in conserving our environment and stopping poaching.

For each unit of their Big 5 tools sold, Lasher Tools will donate... funds to support the counter poaching activities of the SANParks Honorary Rangers in our National Parks.

Help protect our endangered species so that our children and their children can enjoy their natural heritage.

Buy any of these Lasher products at any hardware store, garden centre or shop.

Lasher Tools, a proud South African company supporting our National Parks.

For more information: http://sanparksvolunteers.org/



Monday, January 13, 2014

Seven Year Old Helps To Save The Rhino In Kruger National Park

SANParks Rhino Champion, Alyssa Carter is a normal seven year old and she is also last year’s winner of the Corporate Contribution to Conservation Award (Individual), SANParks Kudu awards. What sets Alyssa apart is she is doing what not many other seven year olds have the inclination to do – try and save a rhino.

Her idea came abo...ut after her school class learnt about endangered animals and her teacher explained how rhinos were being killed. Her emotional response was so strong that she immediately wanted to do something to help save the rhinos, her favourite animal.

With the help of her parents Alyssa started making and selling chocolates in May 2013. The chocolates, selling for R10 each, have a hand-drawn picture of a rhino created by Alyssa. The money she collects goes to support the SANParks Honorary Rangers in their fight to save the rhino.

To date Alyssa has raised over R17, 000 and her dream is to raise enough money to help buy a trained sniffer dog for the Kruger National Park, as well as the necessary supplies the dog will need. Although this generally costs R100 000 Alyssa is determined to raise the money as soon as possible so she can help the Kruger National Park buy a dog. She already has the name picked out.

“Her award is in recognition of her entrepreneurial spirit and acknowledging that the fight against rhino poaching requires funding. She has also been named a SANParks Rhino Champion, a first for someone so young,” says Janssen Davies, National Chairperson of the SANParks Honorary Rangers. “What she is doing is a triumph for her generation and we are proud to have her as a supporter.”

The SANParks Honorary Rangers are the South African National Parks preferred channel for counter poaching support in our National Parks. They work directly with the counter poaching teams in the parks to provide crucial training and equipment.

The battle to save the rhino can also be supported outside the reserves when the kingpins are brought to book. Those with information can make use of the Tip-off lines 0800 205 005, 08600 10111 or 32211; contact Crime Line where they will remain anonymous or their nearest police station with information.

To help Alyssa in her cause, visit – www.sanparksvolunteers.org

Issued by:
SANParks Honorary Rangers

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rhino Alive

Send anonymous tip-offs to SMS 32211 or CALL 08600 10111

Let’s get tough on rhino poaching and preserve our heritage

R 100 000 will be paid to members of the public who provide information leading to the successful arrest of a suspected rhino poacher and R 1 million per kingpin


Invasive Species Eradication Group

Invasive species introduced through human activity is the single biggest threat to the health of our ecosystems. Invasive species thrive in new areas because of a lack of natural limiting factors, such as species utilising them for food and pathogens causing sickness, which would have been found in their natural environment. Because of this, and if they find th...e new environment conducive, they will out compete the species which occur naturally in that area.

The other animal and insect species which occur in the area are not adapted to this new species. These invasive species will not be utilised as part of the natural system. This is how alien plant species can cause large areas to loose their ecological health and become green deserts.

The control of alien invasive species is a huge challenge and often it is impossible to remove such species from the environment after they have taken hold. In such cases the problem can at best be managed to try and prevent severe impacts.

Problem plants offer the biggest challenge in our National Parks. Plant species such as prickly pear, hakea, lantana, red sesbania, queen of the night, spanish reed, water lettuce and water hyacinth, all have a severe impact on the environment.

Control measures are in place to try and stop the spread of these species. Legislation demands the eradication of certain species and controls the propagation and use of other species. Control programs remove invasives through manual clearing, chemical control and through biological control measures.

The SANParks Honorary Rangers are active supporters of control programs based in our National Parks. Hack parties participate in the physical control of such species. We also support projects by providing funding. Education on this subject is important and we are involved in displays and talks aimed at informing the public on this issue.

The Invasive Species Eradication Group is headed by Grant Coleman - grant@honoraryrangers.org

For more information:
http://sanparksvolunteers.org/

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winners Announced For Sasol and Nikon Wetlands Competition

Wetlands are among our most threatened ecosystems. Threats include habitat transformation and degradation through damming, draining, development, mining, pollution, inappropriate burning and grazing, and climate change.

Waterbirds are at the greatest risk from mining. Huge quantities of coal lie below ecologically sensitive wetlands, par...
ticularly in Mpumalanga. Thankfully this mind-set is changing and many people are working to rehabilitate and protect our wetlands.

Sasol and BirdLife South Africa ran a competition where participants were encouraged to do their bit for avian conservation. Participants were encouraged to spot one of five threatened wetland species in Mpumalanga or Limpopo to win. Five winners have been announced for their spectacular photographs who will each receive state of the art Nikon Sporter EX 8x42 binoculars worth R2000 each. The competition ran from January to October.

Peter Zietsman, Chairperson for the SANParks Honorary Rangers: West Rand region said, “The SANParks Honorary Rangers of the West Rand Region are delighted with the kind of information that has been supplied. Five winners were chosen not only for the photographs but for the useful information supplied with the photographs. Entries included photographs of the Pel’s Fishing Owl, White-backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, Pygmy Goose and Black Stork.”

According to Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa’s Conservation Manager, many water resources are polluted by industrial effluents, domestic and commercial sewage, acid mine drainage, agricultural runoff and litter, which has a direct effect on the well-being of birds.

The information and photographs supplied of the five rarely seen and threatened wetland bird species in Mpumalanga and Limpopo will assist BirdLife South Africa and SANParks Honorary Rangers: West Rand Region to conserve wetland birds.

“Such information will contribute to our understanding of the distribution and numbers of these species. The sightings will be included in the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2), one of the largest citizen science projects worldwide,” added Smit-Robinson.

Sasol is one of the role players in the conservation of indigenous wildlife, and has partnered with BirdLife South Africa and SANParks Honorary Rangers: West Rand Region to support bird conservation through the SANParks Honorary Ranger birding weekends, which allow birders to contribute to ‘citizen science’ by recording the threatened birds they sight on their game drives.

Sasol also sponsors the annual Sasol Bird Fair, supports the training of BirdLife South Africa’s bird guides, the Sasol Vaal Dam Big Birding Day, the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Birds of Prey Vulture Monitoring Programme, and the Mabula Ground-Hornbill Project, amongst others.

Richard Hughes, Sasol’s Sponsorship Manager said, “Sasol is committed to sponsoring a variety of bird-related projects. At Sasol, we aim to foster enthusiasm for the preservation of our country’s birds while creating enthusiasm and preservation of our precious bird resource in South Africa.”

The winners of the competition were Alex Zaloumis from Blyde River for his photo of the African Finfoot, Adam Riley from Pietermaritzburg for the Black Stork, Francois du Plessis from Pretoria for the White-backed Night Heron, Chris and Tim Stockton from Alberton for the White-backed Night Heron and Catherine Rodel from Benoni for the African Pygmy Goose.

For more information:
http://www.sanparksvolunteers.org/

Issued by:
Sasol Communications

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Poachers Update

Poachers Update - Two suspected poachers fatally wounded.

Crocodile Bridge Rangers have fatally wounded two suspected poachers, the incident happened at 01H15 this morning. A .375 rifle, ammunition and poaching equipment seized.

MEDIA RELEASE

Pollution affects the Olifants River in Kruger National Park

The South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced that there has been spillage of polluted water from a tailings dam at Bosveld Phosphate, a mining operation, into the Selati River near Phalaborwa. The incident was detected by Kruger National Park (KNP) staff, after a tip off by a local fisherman on 30 December 2013, who had witnessed a massive fish kill.

Heavy rains in Phalaborwa over the weekend of 28 to 29 December 2013 contributed to the overflow of the tailings dam. This resulted in highly acidic water being discharged directly into the Selati River just upstream of its confluence with the Olifants River. The Selati River is an important tributary of the Olifants River, arguably the most environmentally stressed major river system in South Africa and an important shared watercourse with Mozambique.

Investigations into the environmental impact of the spillage are continuing and will be made public once they have been concluded. There is also continuous monitoring of the rivers affected to assess their condition.

SANParks took immediate precautions to ensure safe water supply to tourist camps in the park. Currently those camps dependent on water from the Olifants River have been switched onto back-up borehole water, with associated water use restrictions to ensure that the water demand can be met. Water quality is thus unaffected in KNP tourist camps.

The Department of Water Affairs and South African National Parks are cooperating closely on investigations into this incident and are conducting in-depth investigations into the associated environmental impacts. Intensive monitoring of the environmental conditions are on-going to evaluate the scale of the degradation.

Issued by: South African National Parks (SANParks) Kruger National Parks Communications Tel: 013 735 4300/ Cell: 082 908 4328 / Email: lerato.mathole@sanparks.org.

Enquiries: Nigel Adams, Director: Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Department of Water Affairs. Cell: 082 806 5306.

Ike Phaahla, Media Specialist, SANParks. Cell: 083 673 6974; or email: isaac.phaahla@sanparks.org.

Dr Eddie Riddell, Manager: Water Resources, Kruger National Park, SANParks. Cell: 072 337 1274.

Dr Stefanie Freitag-Ronaldson, General Manager: Savanna Research Unit, Scientific Services, SANParks. Cell: 082 908 2678.

Rhino Carcasses Found

SANParks can confirm that in the past six days, six (6) carcasses were discovered by rangers on patrol in Nwanetsi and Satara. It is a mix of old and fresh carcasses. Investigations are ongoing and an update will be issued once finalised.