During a short ceremony on 26 May 2007 the Lowveld Honorary Rangers handed over a new information centre to Pretoriuskop in the Kruger National Park. The project took several months, a lot of dedication, hard work and long hours to complete.
The ceremony was opened by Harold Resnick, an active Honorary Ranger for the past 43 years and also the oldest Honorary Ranger in the world at 83 years of age. Harold said that it is a privilege to work for an organisation such as the Honorary Rangers as they all share a common interest and that he hopes that all Honorary Rangers will get as much enjoyment out of being one as he did.
He added that he hoped that their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren would show the same interest and follow in their footsteps. He concluded that everyone must enjoy the information centre and keep on working on their interest in the environment. Patrick Reiniers then welcomed all present.
Giving some background he said that the new information centre would eventually form part of the Sable Trail, which originated in 1993. Patrick also pointed out the old transport wagon, which also forms part of the display, that eventually found its way to Pretoriuskop after being donated long ago. Information on the Sable Trail will be displayed on the wagon.
Patrick thanked the previous hospitality manager of Pretoriuskop, Ezrom Mthumbu for his participation and interest in the project and said that Ezrom started and kept the ball rolling from the Park’s side. He said that he was very supportive to the Honorary Rangers and also put a lot of effort into making the project work. Patrick also thanked Margereth for her support after Ezrom was transferred to Skukuza.
Project team leader André Kleynhans thanked everyone involved in the project for their efforts and said what started as a project actually became a vision for the Lowveld Honorary Rangers. He said that they decided that whatever they do, they want to set a standard for everything done in future in the Park, and that he believes they have achieved it with this new information centre. André said that through all the cuts, bruises and toenails that had to be pulled off with pliers, he believes that friendships have been made that will last for a lifetime.
He personally thanked all his team members for all the long hours they put into making this project a success. He said that they sometimes took on jobs that they knew nothing about only to learn more and achieve their goals. He said that this in particular gave him the feeling of self-achievement. Andre concluded by thanking the Pretoriuskop staff for all their support and said that without it and the sponsorship they received the project would not have been possible.
The cost of this part of the project was around R85 000 and the next phase, which is the paved, all-access trail around the camp with information boards, will cost about R200 000. Special guest of honour Nasiwe Nelani of Sanparks said that it was a privilege to be present at this occasion and to recognise the work of the individuals who put it together.
She said that awareness of conservation must be propagated in all places and right into everyone’s homes. She said that she hopes that not only visitors to the Park but also the local communities will benefi t from this new information centre.
Nasiwe unveiled the plaque, a beautiful sculpture of a sable head, and opened the information centre with the words “may this home give pleasure or knowledge and love to all those people in conservation” The chairman of the Lowveld Honorary Rangers presented replicas of the sable to Nasiwe, Pretoriuskop Camp and also to Steven and Therese Lategan the parents of Armand Viviers Lategan.
Armand passed away in a tragic accident and money from his savings account was donated by his parents towards the erection of the sable plaque. A memorial plate for Armand with the words “Set apart in ancient history his singular soul, eternal future, his legacy to behold. “Omnia ad majorun dei glorian” forms part of the plaque. The function ended with informal discussions around coffee and biscuits.