2007 was a very good year for the members of the Bushveld region; it saw them winning the Honorary Rangers' (HR) region of the year award and a SANParks Kudu award. The HR award is based on criteria as set out by the SANParks Balanced Score Card (BSC).
While the region did not stand out with the highest member numbers, or the biggest contribution to SANParks, they did excel in all the requirements. "Slow but steady progress in all the BSC objectives gave the desired outcome," said Piet Andjelkovic, chairman of the region.
There were 12 new applicants in the region. "Most of the black applicants, and indeed black members, are from the teaching profession." The active members are very visible in Letaba Camp, where the services provided are mostly in the elephant hall and include general duties. The region boasts the largest percentage of PDIs of all the different regions, at a commendable 42 percent.
"The community in Phalaborwa is a small one and members who enjoy the HR corps, easily recruit and tell others about it. The proximity to the Kruger National Park (KNP) is obviously a great bonus; most members live very close to the park. Most weekends will find residents and locals (including HR members) driving around Kruger." The region spent in excess of 2000 hours in service of SANParks last year.
The duties were done in the elephant hall in Letaba, general duties in Satara, Letaba, Punda Maria and Shingwedzi. The marking of trees in the Nxanatseni Region was done (currently still ongoing) as a project, and Phalaborwa gate benefited from the members' proximity and dedication. "Some qualified members help with activities at the gate, whether these may be drives, bush braais, walks and trails.
Members helped to upgrade the reception at Phalaborwa's new entrance gate, donating time and money to erect a fountain, benches, a table, flower pots and plants. The benches and tables were hand made by one of the HRs." Amongst the projects that the regions' members are very proud of, is the installation of the new doors at the elephant all in Letaba with assistance from the Limpopo region and members of the public.
The thriving junior rangers movement in Phalaborwa is ably driven by Johan Smit who lectures the juniors every week, takes them into the park for hands-on experience, and has a passion and remarkable dedication towards junior rangers. Johan is also the chairperson of the Phalaborwa branch of the herpetological society.
Johan's expertise in getting the junior rangers corps going has also been put to use in other regions in the province. The members of Bushveld region are well supported by local business. Most members work for Palabora Mining Company, Foskor or the various government offices in the area. "Without the support from employers and employees alike, members would be hard pressed to provide the services they do to SANParks."
"On the other hand, a strong SANParks team under the leadership of Ben van Eeden, provides the members with the support they need. He is skilfully assisted by regional ranger Louis Olivier, section rangers Johann Oelofse at Mooiplaas, Evans Mkansi at Phalaborwa and Joe Nkuna in Letaba.
The hospitality managers of the various rest camps in the area all share in Ben's leadership. Together these members and the HRs of Bushveld region form a great team, and the future looks promising for the region as a whole."