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18/10/2020

From the September 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Below is a table of the provisional results for the annual Umbabat aerial game census conducted in September 2020.
    2020 census

From the August 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Feedback on an eroded area that was developing along Giraffe road last year indicates good results where the intervention of rock packing has had great success as all the grasses are re-established in that section.

Umbabat

  • Nil

From the July 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • At the end of the first week of July in conjunction with the other Nkorho management we took to the eastern cutline of the Umbabat to undertake a controlled burn on the firebreaks. All went according to plan up until early afternoon when the progressively unfavourable wind conditions put a premature end to the exercise. The first five kilometres were successfully completed, some photos below:
     

From the June 2020 Reserve Manager's report: 

Alien plant eradication

  • Nil

Veld rehabilitation

  • Nil

Umbabat

  • Nil

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

 

 


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