The Honorary Rangers (HR) organisation comprises volunteers who focus their efforts in support of South African National Parks (SANParks).
The counter poaching section of the HR is chaired by John Turner of the Johannesburg region. They have developed a well tested fundraising model where they offer two popular products in the Kruger National Park that raises funds in support of the Environmental Crime Investigation unit and to obtain equipment for the rangers in the parks.
These include the Sunset Serenade Weekend in Letaba Camp where classical music enthusiasts enjoy light classical music performed in the bush settings and the Mokhohlolo Bush Camp weekends aimed at influential people who care about biodiversity and nature conservation and are happy to contribute financially to this cause.
This year they ran five Mokhohlolo camps (two in April and three in July/August) over three nights each at a private bush camp 300m from the Mokhohlolo Dam between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge in section ranger Neels van Wyk's area.
The Mokhohlolo Dam, which means "to cough" in Tsonga and aptly named after the presence of the local leopard population, has water throughout the year, even in the middle of winter and so in addition to the resident hippos, it attracts a stream of game from elephant to flocks of birds.
During their stay, guests enjoy early morning and afternoon bush walks under the guidance of highly qualified trail rangers and the opportunity to observe a game capture exercise conducted by Johan Malan and the veterinary wildlife services game capture team.
Accommodation are in two-man tents with communal ablution facilities, a mess tent and a full bar. Perhaps the most important aspect is the communal camp fire where participants meet for coffee before sunrise and bond in the moonlight over a few drinks until late. The camp fire is the place where the world's problems are fully debated and regularly solved.
A typical scene will see a lively discussion about biodiversity and conservation issues which often result in donation huge pledges for specific projects in the parks. The camp and events are run by the experienced team of John Turner and Snowy Botha supported by section ranger Neels van Wyk and the camp offers excellent African bush cuisine.
Recently the CP&RSS hosted a group of zoo keepers led by Peter Clark, director of the Adelaide City Zoo and the largest open zoo in the world. The 1 500 hectare Monarto Open Range Zoo, is situated north of Adelaide in South Australia.
This group of well informed animal lovers stayed in a rugged bush camp in a wilderness setting where they observed animals in their natural habitat. They exchanged technical notes with the game capture team on sedative darts and capture techniques.
A Mokhohlolo camp accommodates 20 guests and the cost this year was R150 000 per camp or R7 500 per person. For more information about the 2010 Mokhohlolo bush camps contact John Turner @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Dominic Barnhardt