From January 1 to December 31 last year, the Honorary Ranger’s (HR) corps contributed more than R12 million to the coffers of SANParks. This is 11 percent more than 2006. More than R3 million is cash and the rest made up of kilometers and hours spent when HRs stay in the parks while performing duties or working on projects.
Janssen Davies, chairman of the HR, also highlighted other milestones for the year in his report presented at the annual general meeting (AGM) which was held at Berg-en-Dal in the Kruger National Park (KNP) on May 24, 2008. “Mission accomplished,” he said as he elaborated on the corps’ performance against its balance score card. In total the HR exceeded all five of their objectives.
In 2007, the HRs achieved an 11,6 percent growth in membership and 25,5 percent in applicants. This translates to a 15 percent growth in overall membership compared to the previous year. By December 2007, the corps had 565 HRs and 236 applicants – 801 members in 25 regions.
In December the corps had 124 previously disadvantaged (PDI) members, which is 15,4 percent more than in 2006.The junior rangers’ corps increased its membership by 18,3 percent and had 1807 members at the end of the year. Although not easy to identify, Janssen said that the environmental education activities “at least doubled over the last year.”
Cheryl Carolus, chairman of the SANParks board, thanked the HR members for their commitment and dedication in an inspirational key note address. Other members of SANParks, Glen Phillips, Danie Pienaar and Kevin Moore presented overviews on tourism, elephant management and people in conservation respectively. The Bushveld region was honoured as the top region for 2007, while the West Rand region’s Big Birding Day was the best project for the year.
The Camdeboo and Johannesburg regions were inaugurated as new regions, as well as a virtual honorary rangers section. At the AGM, a specially designed wheelchair was handed to Chris Patton. Chris was the liaison between the HR and SANParks for many years before he was promoted to a new position in SANParks. Brian Pierce also donated books to the four oldest members of the HR, Harold Resnik,East Rand region, Arthur Jaffe, Johannesburg regio, Eric Holtzhausen. Johannesburg region. The AGM is part of a four day indaba that included guided bushwalks, rock painting excursions, attending a game capture, and Kruger’s annual rangers’ day.
There were also a number of displays and exhibitions. Another highlight was the annual Sasol wildlife quiz with teams from the HRs and SANParks competing for the floating trophy. Quiz master Quinton Coetzee guided the teams to a spirited end with the Louries winning the day for the HRs. The indaba was concluded with a gala dinner, hosted by the Johannesburg region, where several members and SANParks staff were rewarded with merit awards.