Excerpts from the diary of the Nxanatseni region, Vlakteplaas section ranger, Reckson Seani.
SUNDAY 24 DECEMBER 2006
It was clear and hot and I deployed two field rangers at Babalala picnic spot to monitor the situation.
Two field rangers were on the road from Vlakteplaas to Punda Maria junction. I was with another field ranger on the road from Vlakteplaas to Shingwedzi.
There were many cars on the road and the behaviour was good.
Only one fine was issued at Boyela windmill for a person who got out of the vehicle to take photographs of elephants at close range.
There were no bad reports from the other teams that were at Babalala and on the road north of Babalala.
WEDNESDAY 27 DECEMBER 2006
After receiving information that there was a woman in my section who was lying under a tree after being injured by an elephant, I went to Malamulele to pick up the guys who saw her.
As we were going to the place where they had allegedly seen her, I realised that we were no longer in the Vlakteplaas section, but had entered the Pafuri section. We decided to continue, while trying to get hold of section ranger, Sandra Basson, on the radio.
We found the place where the woman had tussled with the elephant. We also found where she had dropped her belongings. When we arrived at the tree where she had been seen lying, we found that she was gone. We tracked her to the fence but saw she could not climb the fence or go underneath. She had walked along the fence to Pafuri, and there we lost her spoor.
I took the guys back to Malamulele and we later learnt that the woman had already gone back to a Mozambique hospital where she received treatment.
THURSDAY 28 DECEMBER 2006
It was hot in the morning and in the afternoon it rained in some parts of the section. I managed to get hold of Sandra and informed her of the situation at Pafuri and the latest information I received about the other two women trampled by elephants in her section.
SUNDAY 31 DECEMBER 2006
It was raining in the morning and as planned we were supposed to have been working looking at the anticipated number of day visitors, but it was not so. I remained in the section for the rest of the day and later went out to check late travellers in the evening but there was none. A great thanks to God Almighty for the protection of the section in 2006 as we did not have any poaching incident. I hope it will be the same in 2007.
WEDNESDAY 11TH APRIL 2007
It was partly cloudy and cool. I went out on the Nonyana block and later went to Sirheni dam to check the level and quality of the water after the Mphongolo had been over-flowing. The level was still high, just at the tip of the dam wall but it was no longer flowing over the dam wall. The color was still very dirty because of the type of soil outside the park where the Mphongolo River comes from. I later went back to the section and there was no incident reported for that day.
THURSDAY 12TH APRIL 2007
It was clear and cool in the morning and later became very hot in the afternoon. I got a report from the Vuswa driver that there was a giraffe trapped at the fence at Nwaxitsumbe enclosure. I rushed to the camp to investigate and found that it was a pregnant female giraffe that had been chased by two male lions. It had tried to jump the fence into the roan camp.
Unfortunately, one hind leg got caught by the fence and it fell, struggled and died. The male lions were just waiting nearby but could not get in as the electric fence was still working well. Fortunately, the grader was being used outside at the fire-break, so I requested the driver to pull the giraffe out of the camp and together with my staff, we fixed the fence the same day before some animals could gain access to the camp.
SATURDAY 28TH APRIL 2007
It was partly cloudy and cool in the morning and later became hot in the afternoon. After finalising some office work I went to Matiyani where one of the general worker’s daughter was getting married in western wedding style.
While there I received information from Shingwedzi that a tourist reported another tourist who was seen at Babalala with a dog. They gave me the registration number of the car. I went to Punda Maria Gate check the registration number on the system and trace where the guest was over-nighting that day.
While still at Punda Gate, I got a call from Shingwedzi that the same tourist was spotted at Shingwedzi. I requested that they locate her and bring her to the phone.
I told her that it was not allowed to bring a pet in the park and I therefore requested she leave the park with the dog before sunset, which she did. She was camping at Punda Maria and apparently she was even seen the day before at the camp with the same dog.
TUESDAY 24TH JULY 2007
It was partly cloudy and cool in the morning. We left very early in the morning to burn the eastern boundary fire-break. We started south of Xingomeni shooting range and carried on until Xilahlandonga, our boundary with the Pafuri section. I was informed at the last minute while busy burning the fire break to attend the handing over of Xingomeni picket to the contractor who is going to rebuild it. After the handover I went back to the fire-break and continued with my team.
In some places it did not burn well as the grass was either green or dispersed. From the firebreak we went on to burn the area around LOET camp, the area around Shirombe picket. We also finished some patches around the roan camp that had not burnt well earlier. We finished the day at Babalala picnic spot in the evening and all infrastructure in the section was safe from wild fire.
JULY 2007 INTERESTING SIGHTINGS
- four wild dogs +- five kilometres south of Magamba.
ANIMAL DISEASES AND DEATH
- one impala was hit by a car near Babalala, but the culprit was not found
- one buffalo was killed by lions at Mbhandwini block.
- one female nyala was killed by a leopard near Xirombe.
- one buffalo was killed by lions on Mphonolo loop south of Shisha bridge.