Conservation and wildlife management

Unfortunately, not much has happened in this field at branch level. This is due to the fact that I have had to concentrate on setting up the foundations of this new chapter in the history of KZN Hunters.  Allegiances have been forged between KZN Hunters and a wide variety of organisations including Conservancy KZN, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Project Rhino and SA CAN as well as their respective partners. This made up the majority of my workload.

I would like to thank the team, particularly members of the KZN Hunters EXCO and Mark Talbot, who stepped up to the plate early in the year to be my second in charge, even though none of us envisioned how much the project would grow at that stage.

To date, we have set up groups in the Upper Highway area, Richmond, Greytown, Dargle and surrounds, Stanger, Estcourt, Camperdown and Cato Ridge, to name only a few. These are the current hotspots that were identified and have become the starting points. This was made possible by the support of everyone involved. The Richmond group has developed into the model and benchmark for all other groups.

Due to our newly established alliance with Conservancy KZN, the team was able to get Samson from EWT to assist in areas like Kwa Ximba (Valley of 1000 Hills), Richmond and Dargle Conservancy. Assistance was provided in the form of wildlife management training and the creation of awareness at various levels, from land owners to rural settlement dwellers. Thank you, Samson, for your overwhelming dedication and willingness to always be there to assist and pass on your invaluable knowledge.

Greytown

Malaplene Private Game Reserve, owned by the Alcock family, was in great need

of assistance on many wildlife-related fronts. Hayley and I made initial contact with them by means of a private visit to assess how the team could be of assistance. I am happy to report that ground has been gained on this project.

KwaDukuza

This project between Vusi, the local Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife District Conservation Officer, as well as the rest of the team, has grown from strength to strength. It has turned into a well-run project, currently led by Vusi and his team. The other members of the team are always available to assist Vusi whenever he needs assistance.

Richmond

This has been by far the most active and groundbreaking of all our projects thus far. It will, in my mind, go down in history as the best and most successful wildlife management model yet produced. The team has come out on top and has set the standard so high that this model has been rolled out to other areas with equal success.  Well done to everyone involved – there are a lot of passionate people who work extremely hard to make this model successful. The project has proved that with teamwork and passion, anything can be achieved. It has been an awesome privilege to be part of this team. I would like to single out Brian Jones from SA CAN, who was instrumental in getting KZN Hunters involved with the group. If it were not for Brian and his team, I believe we would have achieved less than a tenth of what we have. Thank you SA CAN!

The Collaboration Project

To Chris from KZN Hunters; Brent from Ezemvelo KZNWL; Catherine and Samson from EWT as well as Brian and John from SACAN – an enormous thank you for all the effort, support and commitment that you have given to KZN Hunters this year. This project has grown from strength to strength this year, breaking new ground and changing the entire face of KZN Hunters. It is difficult to put into words how hugely successful this project has become. It has been one of the most amazing and gratifying experiences of my life. Everything already mentioned above is a result of the passion and drive that this little team has so willingly put in. It is so gratifying to work with passionate, driven people who are willing to find a million and one ways and reasons to make this project a success.

DCAC

Although this forms part of wildlife management, I have decided to report on it separately. DCAC has now been incorporated into the SA CAN TrackBox system. This has effectively removed all previous issues, as DCAC work will now be allocated to the relevant branch. The branch, in turn, will distribute the work to its members.

This part of the project is far from finished, as it involves geo-fencing the members involved to their respective areas. This in itself is no small task, and is currently being handled by a team made up of our members, SA CAN staff, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and EWT. I have been given some reports from various branches on our DCAC statistics, but these are not a true reflection of what is really going on out there in my opinion. This is due to the way that things were run previously, with those involved being unwilling to share this information. Even though all we want to know is the species culled and the relevant numbers, people are still guarding this information in what appears to be fear of others taking over their own private group. This mentality needs to be broken down and rebuilt as a collective effort, with TrackBox being the only operating system.

An examination of the relevant legislation shows that many of the methods currently used are illegal and must be changed immediately. We don’t want to stop people from participating in DCAC activities, but rather to encourage them to partake in the official wildlife management programme. The purpose of this is simply to regulate it in terms of the law and what legislation permits.

General

Although not much of the above directly affects Durban Branch, it must be remembered that this was a Durban Branch initiative to start with. It has grown tremendously since the beginning of this year. All the above endeavours have an indirect effect on Durban Branch, as the need for our assistance in wildlife management grows every day.

Focus has obviously been placed on the major hotspots, and the team’s concentration has been directed to areas of the greatest need. Much work still needs to be done. However, the team will take a short break over the silly season due to everyone’s personal workloads. I look forward to facing the challenges in the new year. Our infrastructure and teams will be developed even further in 2018.