Notes from ranger Henry Wolhuters diary Skukuza Section November 1959
A preview of ranger Henry Wolhuters diary of November 1959.
2/11: Field rangers from Msutlu picket report in. They reported two cases of hyena catching full-grown wildebeest. In one instance there were 10 hyenas with three pups. They also reported a leopard with two cubs near the picket.
Paid field rangers and completed winter report. Sent three field rangers out to finish building the hut as old picket. Went out in the afternoon to see them and on the way back shot four impala to be sent to the new Olifants Camp.
3/11: Game count up the Sabie to Skurukwane and back via Doispane. On the way delivered rations to Ntwatinwambo picket. In the afternoon delivered rations and water to Toulon Gate picket. Noted that the fountain at the aerodrome has improved again to such an extent that water is trickling down the slope in front. Still overcast and cool.4/11: Delivered rations to Mtsulu picket. Field rangers report a pride of lion visiting the picket every night for the past three nights. In the afternoon again raided the Huhla compound and one woman brewing four gallons skokiaan. I also found a 30 gallon barrel and a large earthenware pot buried in the ground, both were covered with bits of corrugated iron, sticks, etc.
SA Police borrowed my Land Rover for the day to go to Nelspruit as there was no transport in the depot.
5/11: General staff meeting, senior staff meeting and rangers' meeting, lasting from 07h30 until 23h00.
6/11: Discussed estimates and work with section rangers.
7/11: Rewrote winter report as a section report, also district report is required.
Diederick's cuckow have now moved into Skukuza and have been raiding the numerous spotted backed weavers' nests, laying their eggs in them. In one nest where a cuckow chick had hatched out, the mother was seen feeding it. The cuckow are to be heard calling from dawn till dusk.
9/11: Court held at Skukuza. Woman with 30 gallons of skokiaan was fined £50 or six months, while the other with only four gallons was fined £5 or one month. Messrs Steyn, Snr and Jnr, who were charged having shot an impala at Randspruit were fined £50 each for the shooting, £20 each for being in possession of a firearm in the Park and £10 for a firearm without license.
The two latter offences were suspended for one year. Received instructions from the senior nature conservation officer to wage war on the baboons that have become troublesome in staff gardens and in the camp. Shot two today.10/11: Went down to section three with Mr Gerber to take photographs and fingerprints of all PEA [Portuguese East Africa - present day Mozambique] citizens who are in the Park without passports. This is being done with the object of taking passports out for them. Went around via Malelane to see if there were people there who required passports.
Observed that it was very dry all along the Crocodile River, very little growth of grass had taken place so far and what there was, was curling up. Saw very small warthog piglets at Nwatinwambo. The first impala lamb of the season, in the district, was seenyesterday at section three along the Bumi.
11/11: To Nelspruit for court case where a SA Police constable was charged with setting snares at Skukuza. He was found not guilty, but the magistrate instructed that he be removed from Skukuza. Saw first European swallows at Pretoriuskop. A light rain fell during the night, 7.2mm. The remains of an impala killed by a leopard last night was found in the old compound.
12/11: Operation baboon: shot five during the day and two at night. Very hot and close all day. Land Rover taken by Mr Gerber for the purpose of visiting all the northern sections, taking PEA citizens' passport photographs. Thus I will be without transport for three days.13/11: Operation baboon: shot three during the day but was unsuccessful at night as they all cleared off before I could get a shot in. Very heavy storm developed in the direction of Rhenoster Koppies, passed to the east of Skukuza and then north. No rain was recorded there.
14/11: General duties.
15/11: Sunday. The weather yesterday and today has been ideal for rain but no precipitation has taken place. Of the spotted backed weavers that are being caught now many are this year's chicks.
White Baboon16/11: Very small warthog piglets were seen today at the Mtsawu. Operation baboon: having heard and read a lot about baboon being painted white and then frightening the rest of the troop, I decided to try this out. A baboon was caught and painted a cream colour with a spray gun, but as soon as it was released it joined the troop again amidst much screaming and shouting from the rest, and later was seen to be quite at home with its mates. Shot two baboons at night. Shot four impala rations for Olifants Camp.
17/11: Went down the new firebreak, which has just been opened by the bulldozer, from the Napi road down to the Ngwenyena pool on the Mbyamedi. Good rains have fallen in the area, the veld looking green and there being a good pool of water still. Buffalo spoor was plentiful. Angola Kingfisher has returned to Skukuza and can be heard all day long. Operation baboon: shot one by day and one at night. Again saw the 'albino' baboon. The new Met Station has been set up here and is now in operation with three daily readings. These observations and readings are being done by the warden's clerk, but in his absence I have agreed to do them when possible.
18/11: Operation baboon: shot two. Went up the Doispane road and then cut across to the Napi, using the new firebreak recently opened by the bulldozer. From the Nwasitsaka crossing patrolled down the river on foot finding conditions very dry. Saw an impala ewe with wound marks on its hindquarters and about half a mile further on saw a leopard from which it had probably escaped. The only water along this stretch of the river is at the junction of the Mhlanganene. On the way home ran into a very heavy shower on the Malelane road but this has stopped about half a mile from Skukuza. Along the Doispane road both Acacaia grandicornuta (brak thorn) and arabica (redheart) made a very pretty show with their white and yellow flowers.19/11: Operation baboon: the reports from the township and the police compound are that they are now far less troublesome.
The weather for some days now has been overcast and the occasional light shower has fallen but good spring rains are still awaited. Ranger Smit over and spent some time discussing work with him. Went out to the Toulon Gate.
20/11: Operation baboon: shot three. Ranger van Vuren brought his truck in for a service and spent some time discussing his problems with him. Heard from him that the PEA citizen arrested in ranger Cronje's time was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment for attempted murder and six months for poaching three guinea fowl. Office work, including preparing the new PEA citizen passports.
21/11: Local duties. Warden clerk borrows the Land Rover for an official trip to Nelspruit. First impala lambs were seen in the Nwatinwambo area today and also round Skukuza.22/11: Sunday
23/11: Put Land Rover in for a 5000 mile service. Two new tyres were also fitted. Baboon have now become very alert and it is difficult to get anywhere near them. For the next four days will not be able to go out all day as will be doing the met. Returns thrice daily as the warden's clerk will be away.
24/11: General duties. Arranged for a gang of about 25 boys to help with the block burning in section one. So far there is no sign of any European swallow here, although they have been seen at Tshokwane. 25/11: Arranged for ranger van Vuren to go to section one and help ranger Smit with the burning. This will give him experience in block burning. Guinea fowl are now frequently seen in pairs. Dr Pienaar tells me of a year old roan that was killed by cheetah in the Maklari plots yesterday.
26/11: Went across to Pretoriuskop to see how the burning was progressing. Went via Tlapa-la-Mokwena where little rain had fallen, but found that good rains had fallen from the Mbayamedi plots south. The dam was a little under half full and the hole below the wall was full. At Komapite found seven sable but little spoor at the windmill. There are still many small pools in the veld. At the windmill there is a wonderful show of red Barberton daisies. Block S.12 burnt yesterday burnt very well. The March burns at Pretoriuskop are looking very nice and there is a good variety of game there.
27/11: No report27/11: No report
28/11: Two days occasional leave.
29/11: Sunday. Very hot and dry.
30/11: Block S.12 burnt on Thursday jumped the Mbyamedi and burnt half of block S.16. As a result of this it was decided by the biologists to cut blocks S.12 and S.16 in half and make a new block - S.30. Still very hot and dry.
Land Rover: 39176 miles
- Total for month (ranger's duties):
- 448 miles
- Others): 816 miles
- Outside Park: - Private
- Petrol consumption:
- 19.3 miles per gallon
- Rainfall: 10.4mm
- Field ranger establishment: 13
- Field rangers on strength: 13 photo: Victoria Watts UK