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17/06/2020

From the May 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Security meeting (JL in attendance) held with Frontier and neighbouring KNP Section Ranger.

From the April 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Conservation Manager, Chris Mayes reports:

An interesting month of April has passed, it is unfortunate to report that the bulk of the conservation work was elephant related, the late rain received (mostly mid-month) and the subsequent green flush of the grasses and woody layer did nothing to entice these animals away from the Camp. At present we have six different bulls breaking fences daily, creating endless repair work for the skeleton crews of staff. At the time of writing this report a small breeding herd has entered the Camp area as well, so far resisting our attempts to have them vacate, bearing in mind it is a totally different dynamic ‘persuading’ elephant family units to move as opposed to the bulls.

An unexpected storm accompanied by high winds occurred on the evening of the 15th April, as welcome as the late rain was, the damage to the roads was severe. The most critical areas have been repaired and as time allows, we will repair the remaining damage. In total we received 30mm of rain. It seems each year we find ourselves referring to ‘abnormal’ or ‘unusual’ conditions when referring to the weather patterns and the accompanying rainfall, however, I can’t help thinking that perhaps this is the new normal, the constant uncertainty with predicting or forecasting seasonal weather patterns.

The days are spent with the security of the properties as a priority, therefore the monitoring for any vulture activity, identification of any unknown vehicle tracks and checking for injured animals are all foremost in our minds as we go about our work tasks.

On a lesser scale elephant damage to vegetation is removed from the roads and trimmed back. Pan and dam levels are monitored as well as the solar pumps supplying them. It is strange to drive the properties and see the effects of extremely limited vehicle movement. Buffalo and elephant wallows have been established in the middle of some roads after the most recent rains. Elephant impact is found all over. On some of the lesser travelled roads, for example on Goedehoop in particular, road verges are severely encroached by vegetation.

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the March 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Conservation Manager, Chris Mayes reports:

What has been interesting for me has been my observations related to the movement and behaviour of the game in the immediate confines of the camp area. As an example, the baboons are foraging further away and have been conspicuously absent from their favoured area adjacent to Bungalow #199.

A herd of approximately 60 impalas are bedding down in the car park every night.

The refuse area was emptied and locked for the duration of the lockdown. This has resulted in the mongoose families, both dwarf and banded moving away from the central complex area. As we attend to essential security and conservation tasks in camp we come across spoor of buffalo, lion, leopard, and less hyena movement in general. The bird life is prolific.

What are the vervet monkeys up to you may wonder? Well, they seem pretty lost, especially the individuals that have developed a “sweet” tooth over the last few years with compliments of the cooler boxes in the game viewers.

The month of March, very unfortunately, brought us elephant challenges again. The bull that had previously taken advantage of the broken fences during the 2nd week of February re-appeared for further foraging and to test the conservation crew’s patience! His nightly wanderings eventually brought him the reward of locating the one marula tree that was fruiting late, on Giraffe Road, on the western side of the river. All attempts to move him were short lived.

He then teamed up with an older bull who we recognised from last winter, a serial fence breaker in his own right! Together they have kept us busy with infrastructure damage to roofs, decks, water pipes and lathe fences.

Other Elephant damage included multiple repairs to the Sibon pipeline from the borehole supply.

With the bulk of our summer rains falling in the post-festive season period, we are clearly undergoing a second seeding of the grass sward. This has led to unprecedented growth in all areas and has kept the conservation team busy cutting this back where necessary, this was particularly apparent underneath the electric fence, the airstrip verges, and the main road. The tractor drawn slasher was utilised in all these areas during the month in an attempt to clear them. This will continue as needed. Heavy tyres were dragged in certain sections of Buffelsbed and Argyle in an attempt to reduce the height of the “middelmannetjie” as some vehicles were experiencing overheating issues and problems with clogged radiators from the volume of grass seeds.

All mosquito spraying was completed by mid-month.”

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the February 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

The heavy rains of the 2nd week of Feb brought some challenges of their own. As is always the case, once the euphoria died down, we got to work to establish the problem areas. Communications were sent out to all members regarding the status of the rivers as there was no immediate entry or exit from the Reserve. In addition, more rain had been forecast for the following 48 hours.

As we were experiencing a very low water pressure, this was the first indication of water pipeline damage. Geographically, we have pumps on both the Eastern side and Western side of the Nhlaralumi. The pipelines feeding the supply tanks from the boreholes were intact which was a great relief, however, the supply back into the western side of the camp area was damaged and had compromised our entire main water supply. After a dry 2 days and 10 staff members walking the Camp area, we eventually found the problem and water supply to the camp area was re-established.

Damage to the roads was assessed and the washed-out areas that posed potential safety risks were dealt with as a matter of urgency. All immediate repairs were completed in 5 days.

At this stage we were waiting for the Nhlaralumi to subside so that the main road causeway could be cleared of all debris. This commenced and was completed 3 days after the initial rain.

Alien plant eradication

  • With the drought of the last four seasons having now been broken with the 400+mm of rain that has fallen, the propagation of Prickly Pear is becoming apparent. Once we reach the drier winter periods and visibility is improved a concerted focused approach is going to be needed to eradicate this pest.
  • The Red Water Fern propagating in the causeway was totally flushed out in the early February rains. This will be monitored closely in the coming weeks.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the January 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • The outbreak of Red Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides) on the surface water in the causeway was partially removed when the Nhlaralumi River flowed in January, but a subsequent recolonising will require attention.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the December 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • There has been an outbreak of Red Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides) on the surface water in the causeway, this will be dealt with and removed by hand, in the event this fails, biological control will be considered.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the November 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the October 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

General:

  • The injured male lion that had been seen regularly in September was darted and thoroughly examined by Dr Peter Rogers on the 4th of October, The lion was in very poor condition, the assessment revealed that all tendons in the right hind leg were detached, as well as a compound fracture to the right hind kneecap. In all likelihood it was caused by an encounter with a buffalo. The animal was given zero chance of recovery, a decision was taken to euthanase the animal to spare any further suffering.
  • In late September an abandoned elephant calf was observed at Elephant Pan. It seemed to be carrying an injury to its right hind leg/hip. At the time it was unsure whether it would be reunited with its herd or not. Two days later the same calf was sighted again, this time in the Camp area near bungalow #74. Michelle Henley from Elephants Alive was notified and a Vet arranged for an examination to be done. Notifications were left at the Ingwelala Gate requesting Member assistance in locating this animal. All staff were made aware of the situation. The calf was unfortunately never located again.
  • On the 10th October during Chris Mayes routine morning inspection of the fences, he found her skull and remains to the south of Olifant Road in Camp. Indications were that the calf had been killed by lions.
  • A dead kudu bull was reported behind the solar pump at Buffelsbed Hide. On closer inspection it appeared to have suffered a broken neck, the exact cause remains unknown.

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • The draft Umbabat Management Plan was Workshopped by presenter, Greg Martindale, and the various reserve managers employed in the Umbabat.

From the September 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

Some work done on the eradication of the various prickly pear stands during the early part of the month:

  • Goedehoop – 17 plants – riverbank in the Leopard rocks area
  • Argyle – 4 – Bird Hide road
  • Camp area – 2
  • Buffelsbed - 16 -North of Mermaid crossing, adjacent to Klipspringer Lookout

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the August 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Mexican Poppy was targeted during the reporting period. It is difficult to quantify the exact total of individual plants removed. Conservative estimates are approximately 1000 plants.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil, awaiting the summer growth season before continuing with any veld rehabilitation.

Umbabat

  • A productive Umbabat Warden Committee meeting was held in early August, chaired by the Umbabat Warden.

    Agenda items were diverse and covered some critical topics, including the draft Umbabat Management Plan, the threat of the Shot hole Borer to the Protected Areas, various security related issues, new and existing research projects, and the new Enkhulu Gate control access.
  • The Nkorho Private Nature Reserves Association AGM was held on 31 August.

From the July 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • A small stand of Opuntia spp. treated with MSMA on the Eastern bank of the Nhlaralumi River adjacent to Klipspringer Lookout.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Awaiting the summer growth season before continuing with any veld rehabilitation.

Umbabat

  • The Nkorho Private Nature Reserves Association AGM is scheduled for 31 August 2019 at 08h00 at Ingwelala.
  • The Service Provider responsible for removing the obsolete cable from the discontinued Telkom land lines visited Ingwelala and has removed all the cable and associated fittings.

From the June 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil.

Veld rehabilitation

  • The planned follow up spray on the 56-ha trial site on Buffelsbed commenced in early June. The herbicide application was Scrubber, mixed with an absorption and wetting agent called Actipron.

    The application went well, the trial plot will continue to be monitored closely for results, these will be analysed and determined during the growth season following the upcoming summer rains.

Umbabat

  • A wonderful event took place in the Umbabat when an Umbabat landowner, and Member of Ingwelala, who wishes to remain anonymous, generously sponsored a lump sum of money to enable the Umbabat to provide

    a much needed brand new 4X4 single cab LDV to the security provider, Noctuam. Lydenburg Toyota came to the party hugely, by offering the vehicle to the Umbabat at cost price. This will assist Noctuam enormously to carry out their counter poaching efforts expeditiously with efficient and reliable vehicles. Lydenburg Toyota also replaced the Warden’s Hilux Double Cab with a brand new unit. Congratulations and a massive thank you to all involved for such kindness and generosity.
     
  • Letaba Wireless deserve special mention too, for making available free monthly WIFI to the Warden’s Office.
    Thank you for your invaluable contribution Letaba Wireless.

From the May 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil.

Veld rehabilitation

  • The planned follow up spray on the 56-ha trial site on Buffelsbed will commenced in early June.

    The herbicide application is Scrubber, mixed with an absorption and wetting agent called Actipron. The green dye assists to identify which plants have been treated to avoid duplication.

Umbabat

  • Nil.

From the April 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil.

Veld rehabilitation

  • The planned follow up spray on the 56-ha trial site on Buffelsbed has been further delayed due to availability challenges with the service provider

Umbabat

  • The Nkorho Exco met on 27 April 2019.

From the March 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil.

Veld rehabilitation

  • The follow up spray on the 56-ha trial site on Buffelsbed is postponed until after Easter.

Umbabat

  • An Umbabat security and information meeting was attended by Chris Mayes in early March.
  • The threat of shot hole borer to protected areas in the Lowveld is under urgent discussion. A workshop to formulate strategy in minimising further risk is planned for mid-April. The outcome will be advised in due course.
    “Polyphageous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) is an ambrosia beetle that attacks living trees. The beetle creates tunnels, deep within the tree, where it breeds and eats fusarium fungus. The fungus spreads outwards from the tunnels into the tree, blocking the trees’ vascular system. The tree branches begin to dry up, they lose their leaves and with time the tree may die”. Click here for additional information:

From the February 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Feedback from Theresa MacDonald regarding the new product for folio spray has been very positive. A follow up spray on the rehabilitated site on Buffels will commence towards end – March.

Umbabat

  • Nil.

From the January 2019 Reserve Manager's report:

Alien plant eradication

  • X6 Opuntia spp. plants treated in the vicinity of Bird Hide.

Veld rehabilitation

  • Theresa MacDonald, who assisted us with the first follow-up coppice treatment on the 56-ha Buffelsbed plot, assessed the success rate of herbicide application in mid-January. A final treatment is planned to take place in February which should amount to more than seven days field work for a team of two.

Erosion Control

  • The drainage line in the vicinity of Bungalows # 66 and # 69 was serviced to curb lateral soil erosion.

Umbabat

  • The Nkorho Exco meeting was held at Ingwelala on Saturday the 26th of January.

 

 


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