A suspect was wounded when he tried to run away from the police and Kruger National Park (KNP) section ranger, Rodney Landela, on June 1, 2010. Another suspect escaped and had not been apprehended at the time of going to press.
The culprits were driving two stolen trucks through the Phalaborwa section of the park, possibly on their way to Mozambique, which borders Kruger in the east.
Rodney and the police reacted to an early morning tip-off on June 1 that the park fence in the Malopeni area had been cut. Moving swiftly, they set up an ambush in case of any activity in the area. The trucks soon approached, with headlights blazing. The drivers stopped and tried to flee as soon as they realised they were busted.
"To avoid getting hurt, we would like to warn criminals to stay away from the Park and not use it as a thoroughfare for their illegal deeds; our rangers are always on the look-out for criminals and will do everything in their power to ensure the Park remains crime free," cautioned William Mabasa, the KNP's HOD: Public Relations.
The wounded suspect was arrested and is in police custody for further investigations. "The consequences would have been worse as lives could have been lost during this incident," concluded Mabasa.
Following many requests for an environmental group in Tzaneen, an introductory meeting will be held just after the June/July school holidays.
Meetings of the Tzaneen Eco Club will take place about 10 times a year and will take the form of talks and outings. Subjects will be varied and will cover everything from astronomy to zoology.
Talks will usually take place on a Friday evening and there may be a related field outing the following day. Other outings and weekends to a number of the interesting areas in the region and further afield will be organised from time to time.
"Tzaneen and the surrounding area has a huge base of skilled and knowledgeable people on subjects as diverse as astronomy, birding, botany, conservation agriculture, entomology, fresh water ecology , geology ... the scope is almost endless," says Pierre Naude, one of the founder members.
"And we are situated in an amazingly diverse area with bushveld, forest and grassland within half an hour's drive and with hundreds of birds and trees all around us. We have plains game and Big Five just on our doorstep and the geology and ecology of our area is fascinating."
In addition to meetings and outings purely for interest and fun, the Club will offer occasional special courses for people who want to gain either an introductory or a more specialised knowledge into particular aspects of the environment.
Some possibilities are beginner's courses like 'An Introduction to Birding' and 'An Introduction to Trees', and more advanced courses like raptor identification and tracking and field craft.
Activities will be open to everyone and costs, where necessary (perhaps a reserve entry fee or an honorarium for a visiting speaker), will be kept to a minimum.
At present, the initiators of the club consist of Mike Amm, Pierre Naudé, Tony Schultz, Sarel Snyman and Peter Williams who, between them, have a far-reaching base of local and specialist knowledge. Pierre Naude commented, "It is hoped that other people will soon volunteer to join this team!"
On June 9, Kruger National Park (KNP) staff and stakeholders, armed with refuse bags and loads of enthusiasm, targeted their annual clean-up campaign on a five kilometer stretch of the road leading to the Kruger Gate.
Kruger management started the Keep Kruger Clean-campaign four years ago, which has led to the nomination of champions throughout the park who drive various clean-up initiatives throughout the year.
In 2008, young people from communities adjacent to the park joined the initiative. Working with the Kruger champions, these 'Steenboks' promote clean-up activities in their various communities.
They are appointed for two years after which they graduate to become Junior Honorary Rangers. This year, the campaign focuses on recycling.
Littering in the park is illegal and offenders can be fined on the spot up to R1 500. "People should change their perception about litter; the notion that "litter can create jobs" should not find space in the modern life that we live today.
Let us keep the Kruger, our communities and our country clean," says William Mabasa, KNP head of communications.