From the diary of Rob Thomson at Pafuri section, December 2001
Rainfall 7.7mm Complete month-end admin
Rainfall 6.8 mm Monday, 3 Patrolled the mountain range in the Mangala area, a very beautiful area. The Levuvhu is flowing steadily.
Drive through to Shingwedzi to take the Nissan 2x4 for a service. While waiting for the Nissan I catch up on some e-mails. Receive a report about a young elephant bull at Manqeba with pod dermatitis, and decide to check up on him in the course of tomorrow.
Joint operations meeting for the Pafuri area at Pafuri SAP. Involving SANParks SAP and our Mozambican counterparts. Afterwards Bruce, Karien and I travel through to Manqeba to look for the wounded elephant. but unfortunately do not locate him. Bruce and Karien drive back to Punda. I drive back to Pafuri via Manwela and Mapimbi. This evening I receive a report from Chris Morris that he sees a light near the Picnic spot, however on investigation I find nothing. I presume the police or military are travelling at night as normal.
Attend a meeting at Tshikondene mine with Kobus and Bruce. The objective is to find a way to conceal the silo that is such an eyesore to Nyalaland trails camp. This afternoon we drive to the ‘Outpost’ site, for a site inspection with the developers and architects. We identify tree species that cannot be removed or damaged, as well as the best possible area for each hut, sewage, etc. See the first warthog piglets for the season.
Shoot two impala sub-adult rams for December month and year-end function for the staff. Then drive to Matiyani to drop off labourers. En-route arrest two Mozambique immigrants who tried to hide on the open plains in the long grass, near to Elandskuil. On the way back to Pafuri, I get word of another refugee who has sought refuge at Nyalaland trails camp. Collect him f rom there, and thereaf ter radio Bruce to arrange that the police meet me en-route so that I can hand them over. Police fail to arrive. Get home late.
8.8mm of rain Worked in office preparing a letter concerning the Makuleke hunting proposal. Refer to far north district ranger and Makuleke files. Drive to Manqeba to look for the elephant with pod dermatitis; however, I do not find him. Travel to SAP, Crooks Corner and Nyala-drive to evaluate the condition of the roads after the recent rains . Today the Levuvhu is the fullest I have seen , flowing very strongly and is very muddy.
1mm rain Receive a report from Chris Morris that he has seen two people having a braai at Crooks Corner. On my arrival there, I ask them why they are braaing. Their reply is that the picnic site is too full. Nevertheless, they were not hostile. On my way back I make a turn at the picnic site. It is overflowing with people having a year-end function. I leave the lance corporal there to ensure that everything remains peaceful and instruct him to get a lift back to the bridge when the party is finished. Later in the afternoon, I patrol the Hapi block and pan area. The pan is about 20 percent full. The hippos that were normally situated near to Crooks Corner are now moving upstream towards the picnic site. I also see Narina Trogon near the picnic area – a lifer for me.
Meeting with Kobus, E Kelder and G Hlungwane, Shingwedzi camp manager, at the Pafuri picnic site. The issue of discussion is the placement of the tented camped site in the Pafuri area, as part of the ‘Bobomene initiative’. We then attend various site possibilities and came up with the area at the Hapi ridge, near to the Hapi natural pan. I am tasked to prepare minutes of this meeting, which are distributed to all parties concerned. Very hot and humid day.
Shooting practice. Drive to Manqeba and Gachacha to check on the wounded elephant bull. His tracks show he is in the Gachacha area, but I cannot find him and he has not been seen for a few days now. It starts to storm later this evening.
Measured 71mm of rain after a violent storm, which destroys a number of trees along the river frontage. Drive to Phalaborwa to meet with CIS to start planning an operation in the Pafuri section. Overnight at CIS Phalaborwa.
2.1mm rain. Continued with operation during the course of the day. Later this evening attend a year-end function at Shingwedzi and drive home afterwards.
3.3 mm rain. Continue with operation. Refer to CIS for any further results and information. Marc McDonald, Wouter Jordaan and John Mcarter overnight at Pafuri due to bad weather affecting their Lebombo 4x4 trail.