Of Rhino, Buffalo and Rain
EXCERPTS FROM THE STOLSNEK SECTION RANGER’S
DIARY – OCTOBER 2007
Don English calls early this morning regarding a leopard that is under the guide’s tent at Napi trails camp. Self and Sgt Maluleke meet Don at Afsaal and together motor to the camp. We check the tracks and after some tense moments, notice that the animal had managed to find a weak part of the fence and slip under.
Thereafter Sgt and self drove to Skukuza where we completed some admin functions. Thereafter motor to Mabarule near Lillydale outside Kruger gate, to fetch Girly Ndlovu, the wife of the late lance corporal Wilson Ndlovu. She is being flown to Durban to be honoured by the International Rangers Federation (IFR) for the loss of her husband, who was killed by an elephant in the line of duty.
See that she gets safely onto the aircraft as this will be her first time on an aircraft and very unfamiliar to her. While on the way home we received a report from Johan Enslin at Wolhuter that they are viewing a pangolin. Home by 18h00.
Receive some rain overnight – 3.5mm. Receive a call from Don of a rhino transporting crate overturning at Afsaal, and the drugged rhino getting out of the crate. Drive to Afsaal to assist, but by the time we arrived the team had already manoeuvred the animal and it was already back into the crate. Only need left was to assist with traffic. Arrive home this afternoon.
In office working on admin for the morning, then head to Jock lodge for a routine monthly audit check and discussions with the head ranger. Note that many of the mega-herbivores are moving deeper inland after the recent rains and the greening up of the vegetative layers. Elephant and buffalo herds seen in the concession area.
In office briefly deploying staff. Thereafter patrol with Sgt Maluleke, E. Maluleke, general worker T. Sindane, self and the Jack Russell ‘Savy’ patrol up the Mangake River until the source, locating a white rhino bull carcass. The front horn we picked up last year after it was washed a few kilometres downstream.
Patrol back to Stolsnek via Robin stream, seeing three buffalo bulls, a herd of 15 elephant and two white rhino. The grass has greened up wonderfully and numerous wild flowers in bloom. Pools of water all the way up the Mangake stream. After an 18km patrol return home by 13h00. This afternoon in office working on some section issues, hear red chested cuckoos for the first time.
Drive to Sand River base early morning for re-training. Conduct some drilling and thereafter standard shooting details. Thereafter attend to some admin issues in Skukuza, and head home by 18h00.
Receive report from Bushman trail ranger, Oris Mngwenya, that on Sunday they had an elephant in camp, which was aggressive and charged them while in camp.
A warning shot was fired to scare the animal away, after which it left and to date has not returned. See a buffalo herd at the dam and at the entrance road from the Jock road, see a female leopard at Machutwanini koppies and a herd of elephant at the Mbiyamiti Bridge.
Drive to Berg en Dal to collect Kelly’s car, en-route see the wild dog pack at the Wolhuter T-junction with six pups. Total five adult and six pups all in good condition. Some of the adults were hunting while the others stayed with the pups and carried on heading south down the road in the direction of Wolhuter camp. In office for the rest of the day.
Drive to Skukuza to hand in ivory and rhino horn. Thereafter attend to other admin issues returning home early afternoon, to continue in the office.
This morning drive to the Mlambane windmills to measure the ground water, (seven metres). Good white rhino and elephant sightings. This area is showing plenty sign of elephant damage on Terminalia and Combretum spp, probably due to this area not having being burnt during the fires, and therefore forcing a lot of elephant into the area.
Some of the mud wallows are still half full after the rain received some weeks ago, but a follow-up is needed. The water at the Mlambane weir has diminished and there is only a small puddle left on the leeward side.
Self on leave. Receive report from J. Shabangu at Mnyeleni that he had to shoot and destroy a white rhino cow at close quarters near the Mnyeleni River while on a bicycle patrol. Self and Sgt went to investigate the incident. The cow was accompanied by a sub-adult and upon seeing the rangers on their bikes rushed them at close quarters.
All three rangers disembarked their bikes and took cover in the tight scrub and long grass along the river bank. The cow’s head was lowered trying to hook them, of whom Shabangu was the closest. He fired a shot into the animal to which it collapsed two metres from him.
There was no blood or bullet hole that could be seen, due to the animal having fallen on the wound. The bullet probably hit the spine indicating why it dropped so quickly.