Reflecting back on 2010 earmarks a busy year for Ingwelala with a number of milestone achievements.
Early in the year a huge effort went into moving many tons of heavy duty fencing material from the Pafuri area in the KNP back to Ingwelala.
The objective was to improve the effectiveness of the camp perimeter fence against unwanted elephant break ins. Conservation staff continued to erect the cable fence over many months of hard physical work, and these efforts are rewarded by the fact that elephant break ins are now almost non existent. One clever bull has learned to enter and exit the camp through Paul’s Gate, staging this feat almost half a dozen times. The gates and river crossings will remain the weakest links, and all management can do is monitor and manage these risk areas going forward.
The tracker dogs, Bill and Max, returned from their professional dog training school in May, with Level 2 Certification in tracking human scent and Certificates in Advanced Obedience, though I am quite sure the latter certification was acquired through some form of bribery and corruption on the dogs’ behalf! Their affection towards people can buy anything. But in the field they continue to do their duty and are always willing to please. Circumstances have not yet arisen to deploy them in a real life follow up, but the regular mock trails we lay continue to produce pleasing results. Their mere presence and advertised tracking abilities may well be a huge deterrent, the number of solar theft incidents has certainly dropped off dramatically. This, together with the planned alarm system for solar equipment and a dedicated armed patrol for Ingwelala should hopefully put a lot of it to rest.
On the neighbouring front, the Umbabat AGM in the mid year culminated in a larger and new look Exco being elected. Despite recent concerns expressed from the MTPA over the biological management of the Umbabat, the Exco has, and is, working very hard to find common unity and promote conservation projects within the Umbabat. Responding to the MTPA with an inventory of conservation projects and associated budgets, the Share Blocks in particular can be proud of what it is being achieved ecologically. My term chairing the Umbabat Warden Committee has ended on account of the admin building complex remodeling in 2011, and therefore Henry Hibbert, the Ndlopfu Reserve Manager, has agreed to carry the baton.
I mention the admin complex remodel, known as Project 80:80, for this project has found an overwhelming acceptance from the Membership. It has occupied much of the Board and Management’s time during 2010, and we may all agree that perhaps the easy part is now done, and what lies ahead in 2011 is the real challenge to ensure the final product exceeds our expectations. There will be many compromises and the Ingwelala operation as we all know it will be severely challenged at times. The best we can do is stand together, grit our teeth, help each other along, give each other the necessary space and work through the pain! I’m looking very forward to the test of character.
Our nation very successfully hosted the soccer world cup. Ingwelala was impacted too, enjoying improved occupancy during this period and beyond, including Sibon, and this has being very good for business and turnover.
Moving the Jhb office and secretarial operation to the reserve has provided an opportunity to provide continuity in these services.
In closing, Natalie and I wish to thank each and everyone for your support. The Board continues to be diligent and balanced in representing the Members and Staff’s best interests at all times. The sub committees have served with professionalism, dedication and often beyond the call of duty. It remains a pleasure to work with a cheerful and willing team of staff who enjoy Ingwelala as much as the Members do, and who remain committed to serve you.
Wishing each of you everything of the best for 2011, especially good health.
by John Llewellyn