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2013: May, Number 24

          Occasionally issued news of interest to WNC members and others in the Waterberg Number 24 May 2013   In this issue     Next General Meeting Anna Merz Welcome New Member DREAM / DROOM Vaalwater! Open Day at The Fold SAPIA News Mountain Bike Race Good Fences Gone Bad Conservancies in South Africa Eskom Contacts     Waterberg Nature Conservancy     P O Box 1224 Vaalwater 0530   Secretary: Heidi Carlton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Chairman: John Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Newsletter items by John Miller unless otherwise attributed     Visit the website www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za                       Unsubscribe     Don't want to receive this Newsletter anymore. Please {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe} to this newsletter.       Next General Meeting Date: Thursday, 11 July 2013Venue: Thaba Meetse2km from 4-way stop in Vaalwater on Melkrivier roadnote new venueTime: 2:00 pmGuest Speakers:Brett Coutts, Digby Wells EnvironmentalWhat’s Happening in the Waterberg Coal FieldplusAndre UysGambella’s Hidden TreasuresWhite-Eared Kob, Nile Lechwe, and more from EthiopiaplusGustav CollinsSave the Waterberg RhinoFood and Refreshments providedRSVP to Heidi Carlton by Monday 8 July 2013(contact details at left)Note these meeting dates for 2013:12 September, 28 November Anna Merz 1931-2013 Anna Merz, a most remarkable person who lived a most adventurous life, died in a Pretoria hospital on April 4 after a brief illness. She was 81. Anna had lived in the Waterberg since 1996 and was an Honorary Member of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. She is rightly celebrated as the leader of the successful effort to save the black rhino in Kenya. From an early age, Anna loved animals, travel, and adventure, and was a keen and accomplished horsewoman. Those passions drove her life. Born in England on November 17, 1931, Anna studied politics and economics at Nottingham University, then read for the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn. With her first husband Ernie, Anna moved in 1958 to Ghana, where for nearly 18 years she ran a light engineering workshop and trained and rode racing ponies. She also worked as an honorary warden for the Ghanaian Game Department and National Park and took five Land Rover trips into the Sahara to reconnoitre sites for wildlife reserves.In 1976 she and her second husband Karl moved to Kenya and by 1981 she had established the Ngare Sergoi Rhino Sanctuary on Lewa Downs ranch, at the foot of Mt. Kenya. Her 1991 book Rhino at the Brink of Extinction provides a detailed account of how, in the face of ridicule and disbelief, she first coaxed 10,000 acres of Africa from a farming family and then permission from the Kenyan government to search for and capture the last remaining black rhinos in the wild.By 1994, the whole of Lewa Downs as well as the government-owned Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve had been enclosed within a 2.5-meter-high electric fence, creating a 61,000 acre rhino sanctuary. For three and a half years Anna hand-reared a female black rhino calf that had been abandoned at birth by its mother, and then successfully re-introduced her into the wild. Desmond Morris, the world-renowned zoologist and author, wrote in the forward to Anna's book, "I have met many remarkable animal specialists during my life, but none so extraordinary as Anna Merz. What Joy Adamson was to lions, Dian Fossey was to Gorillas, and Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees, Anna Merz is to rhinos."For her rhino conservation work in Kenya, Anna was in 1990 named a Laureate of the Global 500, a United Nations programme that recognizes and honours environmental achievement.Her 1992 book, Golden Dunes and Desert Mountains recounts her absorbing life in Africa and exciting journeys around the world. The book's prologue suggests her personal philosophy, quoting in part a poem by the British poet James Elroy Flecker:We are the pilgrims, Master,We must go always a little further.For it may be, beyond that last blue mountainLimned with snow, beyond that angry or that glimmering sea,High on a throne, or guarded in a cave,There lives a man who knows why men are born.Her continued involvement with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and the International Rhino Foundation are testimony to her enduring devotion to the cause of rhino conservation. She carried on raising funds, both through lectures around the world as well as endurance rides, one as recently as 2011 across the Kalahari Desert of Botswana. Here in the Waterberg, she continued to ride regularly and care for her eight beloved dogs. We miss her now.If you search Anna’s name on the web, you will find many, many stories and tributes to her and her extraordinary life.   Welcome New Member A warm welcome to a new member of the Conservancy – Marakele Park Pty Ltd, a “Schedule Two Contractual Park”, adjacent to Marakele National Park. At our February meeting, Andre Uys, General Manager of the reserve, told us about the management plans and Pete Oxford showed us some outstanding photos of the park’s various and plentiful game. Our 68 Conservancy members' properties now total over 185,000 hectares. For those of you in the Waterberg who are receiving this Newsletter but are not Conservancy members, please join us. We reflect a variety of bush activities – private reserves and private homes, tourism operations, game ranching, hunting, commercial agriculture, conservation research, environmental education, small business.     DREAM / DROOM Vaalwater! Recently, those of you who visit Vaalwater on a Saturday morning might have noticed a few groups of people along the roadside in red T-shirts, picking up rubbish, removing broken, illegal or obsolete notices, cutting the grass and weeds along the verges and generally cleaning up the town. They are the vanguard of the Dream / Droom Vaalwater campaign, which intends to draw the community in to a regular programme of uplifting the appearance of our town, tidying up the mess left by ignorant or careless citizens, creating floral features and building an awareness of the importance of keeping Vaalwater clean and attractive. The programme is the brainchild of Yvette Muldoon, a newcomer to the town, who works at the local Eskom offices. It stems from a nation-wide campaign launched by the radio station RSG, which has been remarkably successful in several other towns around the country. Yvette, with great assistance from Retha van der Merwe, an indefatigable activist in the community, has secured the co-operation of the Modimolle Municipality, whose personnel and equipment have also been much in evidence recently, thanks to the efforts of Isaac Gwebu and Stan Tema.The programme will stand or fall according to the support it receives from the community. It needs not only people and equipment to assist in clean-up operations, but also material, like aloes, rocks, soil and compost to help make floral features at the entrances to the town and at intersections. If you’d like to participate in the DREAM / DROOM Vaalwater campaign, please contact:Yvette Muldoon: 082 809 2228 Retha vd Merwe: 082 782 4205 Come on – help us make this dream come true!Richard Wadley     Open Day at The Fold In appreciation of such wonderful support that we have had from the community you are invited to: An Open Day at The FoldSaturday 1 June 201310.00hrs onwardsLight Refreshments Served We invite you to come along and have a look at The Fold and learn a bit about us, our staff, and, most importantly, our children. We have now been in operation for 2½ years, and are proud of what has been achieved so far. It is time that we shared this with everyone in the community. Please come and enjoy some light refreshments whilst learning about the project. +/- 40Kms from Vaalwater on R517, the Old Ellisras RoadOpposite La Rive HotelTel 084 967 6022 Paul and Mickey Prince     SAPIA News Southern African Plant Invaders Atlas Lesley Henderson, the Weed Scientist at the ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, has devoted the current issue of SAPIA News to the Waterberg. After her recent field trip to the Waterberg, Lesley was motivated to make people aware of the threats to this precious part of South Africa. See what we're up against in this SAPIA News: Download of 1.2mb     Mountain Bike Race 20/21 July 2013 The Waterberg Toyota Lindani MTB Classic 2013 will be held on a purpose-designed single track in the pristine mountain bushveld of the Waterberg. The 100km two-day race and the 30km one-day race will be held on the 20th and 21st of July. Registration: www.racetime.co.za. Information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..     Good Fences Gone Bad Over the years, I have had the privilege of visiting many game farms and developing more than 10 communal nature reserves. Therefore, in my experience, the most important structure on a game farm is the perimeter fence. At R9,2 million per buffalo or R900 000 for a sable cow no one would like to share their game with their neighbours. One good sign of a farmer’s commitment to his livelihood is indeed the condition of his fences. The quality may be affected by financial capacity, but the maintenance is surely a gauge for commitment. It often happens that one comes across beautiful farms with expensive species, exquisite lodges and the latest model 4x4s, only to be amazed at the poor condition of their perimeter fences. How much time is spent in the garden, washing vehicles, sweeping verandas or the like as opposed to maintaining fences? The less time spent maintaining fences, the more time it takes to bring them up to standard again. Many farms have electrified fences, but uncontrolled grasses and weeds could render these ineffective. It might be a good idea to have two people, equipped with pliers and binding wire, covering the perimeter once a week to make amendments where necessary. Better still, each vehicle should have these as standard equipment for quick mending on site every time the rancher notices damaged portions. Buy weed killer in spring and have a team clear the vegetation overgrowing the fence. To finish, take the tractor and drag tyres around the farm a few times. How many times has it happened that when trying to fight a veld fire, manoeuvring along overgrown fences seemed just as demanding as fighting the fire? Try imagining the frustration when witnessing the devastation that could have been prevented if the access roads had allowed it.by Riem Bona; Wildlife Ranching, Summer 2011; reprinted with permission.     Conservancies in South Africa The June 2013 issue of Country Life has an article about the work of Conservancies in South Africa. It’s entitled “Nature’s Watchdogs” and gives credit to the conservancy movement for being effective advocates for clean rivers, pure air, thriving wildlife, and much more. Although it wrongly locates the Waterberg Nature Conservancy in the North West province, and seems to suggest that our 150,000 hectares is one contiguous property, we are given due credit for the Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines we developed in 2007 (thank you Sam van Coller and Richard Wadley). This is a comprehensive set of guidelines for developers who are planning residential estates or other significant changes to land use in the Waterberg. The Guidelines are embodied in the management plans of the Waterberg District Municipality and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and we’d like to think that they are consequently used as intended. If you’re interested, Heidi can send you a copy. There are about 750 registered conservancies in the country, according to John Wesson, Chair of the National Association of Conservancies and Stewardship of South Africa (NACSA). After John spoke to us about conservancies at our December meeting, we considered joining NACSA, ultimately deciding against it. Nevertheless, we have been invited to join and participate in their upcoming AGM. Anyone who is interested in attending and representing the Waterberg Nature Conservancy would be welcome. You could report back to us with your recommendations, including about whether we should join or not.The Gauteng Conservancy and Stewardship Association & Cullinan Conservancy are hosting the event. It will be held at the Casa-Lee Country Lodge, Cullinan, 13 -15 September 2013. For further information, contact Joan – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..     Eskom Contacts Here are the names and contact details of the Eskom personnel who spoke to us at our 11 May general meeting. They are quite serious that we should feel free to call them about their specialties.Leader:Tendani Moloto, Leader; 083 656 1408; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..zaConservation & Environmental Protection:Hannes Janse van Rensburg; 082 805 3480 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..zaWaterberg District Network Development Plan:Andile Bala; 078 625 9803; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..zaOperations & Maintenance Technical Performance:Piet Grobler; 082 657 5599; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..zaIntegrated Demand Management Funding (Rebates):Hennie Willemse; 082 772 4813; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Increase:Kabelo Magadlela; 083 555 5887; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     You're receiving this newsletter because you live in or are a member of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy, or you have previously expressed interest in the efforts of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. Having trouble reading this? View it in your browser. Not interested anymore? {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe}    

Number 21, November 2012

          Occasionally issued news of interest to WNC members and others in the Waterberg Number 21, November 20       In this issue     Annual General MeetingDampening some Rural LegendsThe High Cost of Climate ChangeExotic Game – Some QuestionsRhino Poaching in the WaterbergCarnivore SnapsWhat Goes Around, Comes AroundDo you have a writer or photographer in the family?Advertisements Welcome     Waterberg Nature Conservancy     P O Box 1224Vaalwater0530   Secretary: Heidi Carlton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Chairman: John This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.           Visit the website www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za           Forward to a friend       Know someone who might be interested in the newsletter? Why not forward this email to them.     Unsubscribe     Don’t want to receive this Newsletter anymore. Please {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe} to this newsletter.     Annual General Meeting Date: Thursday 22 November 2012 Venue: Vaalwater Rivier Oord (two km past the Spar on the old Ellisras Road, turn left) Time: 3:00 pm Note 3:00 pm start time! This AGM will be a bit different from our normal meetings. You’ll hear the Conservancy Financial Report and the Chairman’s Annual Report, of course, but we will also elect the 2013 Executive Committee, announce our Waterberg Conservationist of the Year, learn how you can contribute to Pompom Weed Day in January, and see what we’re doing about other invasive and exotic vegetation.   After all that, a wide-open discussion, with guidance from John Wesson, about the future of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. John Wesson is the Chairman of the National Association of Conservancies/Stewardship South Africa (NACSSA) as well as Region Manager Conservation, Wildlife & Environment Society of SA (WESSA). For this important issue alone, we urge you to attend the meeting. We’ll conclude with a lekker dinner, most of which provided by the generosity of Marc Dieltjens: sushi, trout, wine and much more. Non-members are invited to join us for the dinner at a charge of R75. We absolutely need your RSVP to Heidi Carlton no later than Monday 12 November 2012. Call her at 082 336 8757. Dampening some Rural Legends by Richard Wadley A popular statement, in these days filled with assertions about climate change and global warming, is that it doesn’t rain as much in the Waterberg as it used to. And who’s to deny that? The very name “Waterberg”, to say nothing of other names like “24 Rivers”, “Sterkstroom” etc., conjure up an image of this enormous spongy aquifer, saturated with limitless supplies of water. The truth, of course, well known to most of us who have injected thousands of rands into this ‘sponge’ down dry boreholes, is that generally, our Waterberg is anything but a bounteous source of water. There are a few fortunate holes, drilled into one of the major fractures that transect the region, that do indeed have yields of tens of thousands of litres per hour; but for the most part, Waterberg aquifers are young, small, fracture-fill reservoirs, that empty fast and refill quickly during the rains. And as soon as they fill, they spill – resulting in numerous glistening seeps and springs that give the impression that there is much more water beneath the surface than is actually the case. As to the legend that rains in historical times were heavier than today, the facts suggest otherwise: my analysis of rainfall records in our area, around Tafelkop and Sondagsloop, covering a continuous period from 1930, shows a distinct, if very slight upward trend in rainfall over that 80 year period, from an annual mean of about 580 mm in 1930 to around 610 mm today. Small, yes, but significant. Long may it continue. And that’s not all: another popular rural legend is that if the rains should commence before Kruger Day (10 October), watch out – a dry season is looming!I’m not able to extract rainfall prior to 10 October for all the years concerned, but certainly, the rainfall that is recorded in the period from July to end-October since 1930 provides no clue whatsoever as to the total that might be recorded for the season as a whole. There is just no trend evident (Chart 1). Oom Paul can rest in peace.   Chart 1 Chart 2 What does appear to be true, however (Chart 2), is that good early rains (i.e. before end-October) might lead to poorer rainfall in the second half of the season (January-July); in other words, good early rains could mean that the whole season could be earlier (though not necessarily poorer) than normal – although even here, the trend is weak. As we see this season, the veld seems to welcome the early rain, with many species flowering and fruiting more prolifically than usual; but it could also result in a long, dry winter, especially if followed by a late or poor season the following year.   The High Cost of Climate Change by Alan Harman; Published in Farmer’s Weekly, 15 October 2012, reprinted by permission. Some 100 million people worldwide will die in the next 18 years as a result of climate change, according to a report commissioned by 20 governments and prepared by the humanitarian organisation, DARA. Global economic growth will be cut by 3,2% of gross domestic product by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change. Doing little or nothing about climate change is already causing R9,9 trillion in losses around the world, and these costs will escalate rapidly.The report links climate change and the carbon economy to 5 million deaths a year.Of these, 400 000 are due to hunger and communicable diseases aggravated by climate change, while 4,5 million deaths are linked to air pollution, hazardous occupations and cancer.The report said South Africa’s average annual economic costs due to climate change were R411 million in 2010. This would rise to R2,05 billion in 2030.Launching the report during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina said a 1°C rise in temperature would lead to a 10% productivity loss in farming.Virtually all of the costliest drought years have occurred in the past two decades and the impact is very widespread, with some 160 countries likely to experience high vulnerability to drought by 2030, said the report.     Exotic Game - Some Questions by Ken Maud When you keep on blowing up a balloon it will eventually burst. Throughout history there have been investment opportunities that have caught the imagination of the public and which, through greed and ingenuity, have caused prices to rise way beyond where they should be. It is usually the people who get drawn into the situation long after it has started that are left holding the balloon when it bursts. It is the insiders that get in early in the cycle who usually make the profits …unless they, too, get carried away and greed takes over. Given the recent price escalations in so called “exotic game” or Crowned Game one must ask the question whether the balloon is being blown up much too quickly. Twenty one years ago in 1991 there were recorded sales of only 7 Sable antelope in auctions in the whole of South Africa. The price of those Sables was R25,285. By August 2012 the number of Sable auctioned (excluding Zambian, West Zambian and Tanzania bloodlines) had risen to 440 and we still have two months of sales to report! The average price for last year appears to be R177,966 with the latest record price being R12,200,000 paid for a Zambian bull and R525,000 for a Matetsi bull! There are added factors that one has to give careful consideration to. What is the end game plan for the animals? Are they to be hunted? If so, who is going to pay the high prices to shoot them? There will always be a select few hunters who could afford them at the current high prices but for the average hunter it is surely out of the question. Another question that should be asked is: will the breeder risk putting his R150,000 Sable out into the veld when there is a good chance that it may be taken by a leopard or be infected by ticks and now needs to fend for himself without special diets? It would certainly be an interesting exercise to see what would happen to these highly priced and pampered animals if they were to be set free in their natural environments. Has anyone tried? Is anyone prepared to take the chance? If not, why are they being bred? Although we have used Sable as an example in this article surely the same arguments can be made for the other so called exotic species such as Buffalo, Roan, Nyala, etc? The question of colour variants is a whole different issue but I would expect the same logic must eventually apply? More recently there have been a number of articles comparing the growth in prices in exotic game to the stock market indices, the price of gold and other measurables. Again history has shown when that begins to happen we are nearing the end of the cycle. In case we think we are immune I refer you to a wonderful book written by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841, and called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The simple law of economics dictates that supply is soon going to exceed demand. If we take the high number of applications that only Limpopo Province receives this can happen very soon. What is then going to happen to the price? With the maturity of the game industry in South Africa we are already seeing the prices of regular plains game tailoring off.     Rhino Poaching in the Waterberg by Victoria Crake Dear Rhino Owners and Members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy, I work at Ant’s Nest for Ant and Tessa Baber. We were hit by rhino poachers in December 2011 and they killed one of our white rhino cows together with her eleven month old baby. Despite beefing up security, we were hit again at the end of July this year, when another of our cows was shot. Pelham Jones has told us that history dictates that once one rhino has been poached, the poachers will return again and again until they have wiped out the entire population. For obvious reasons we are extremely keen that any plans to do this are thwarted as quickly as possible. We decided to find a vehicle to raise funds to dedicate to protecting our rhinos from poaching. Our plight was recently publicised by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, who posted a message on his website. Following this we had offers of support from all over the world. However, we do not just want to help ourselves; we want to help other rhino owners and landowners in the Waterberg area. We understand from personal experience that the necessary enhanced security comes at a massive cost to private rhino owners. We feel that there is a need for an area-wide initiative. Rather than setting up our own charity, we decided to link up with OSCAP (www.oscap.co.za) and want to our initiative to benefit rhino owners all over the Waterberg area. We have called this initiative “Save the Waterberg Rhinos”. OSCAP has set up a separate bank account for us to accept donations into, and we plan to make this completely transparent to donors in order that they know exactly where their money is going. Any funds raised through this initiative will be put towards securing rhinos in the Waterberg and perhaps eventually even further afield. Any initiative which aids rhino security will also assist in the general security of the area. We very much hope that you would like to become involved in this initiative. You may be a rhino owner who has not yet been hit by poaching but sadly it is probably only a matter of time. We have movement all over our farm on a daily basis and thought it couldn’t happen to us, but it has – twice. We are looking for people from the local community who would like to become involved in both overseeing the management of the initiative and rhino owners who we can assist. Additionally some lodges may be able to approach their client database for assistance in fundraising, specifically to help themselves. We are researching, together with OSCAP, a number of high tech options for protecting rhinos, including CCTV cameras on fence lines and a camera system mounted in a balloon (originally developed by the Israeli military for use on their borders) which has both conventional and infra-red technology. We can see some of these applications working alongside the more traditional ‘feet on the ground.’ In addition to this OSCAP has donated a tracker dog to us. Please be aware that this dog is available to any landowners in the local area who notice that they have suffered an incursion on their land. We would like to hold a meeting in November to get as many rhino owners in the area as possible together to agree on a way forward for this. Any local landowners and business owners who are interested in getting involved are also very welcome to attend. We would like to use this as a brainstorming session and feel the more people we can get together the better. This meeting will be held at Ant’s Nest on Friday 16th November at 10am. We will be providing lunch for those who wish to stay on after the meeting. Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. firstly to let me know if you are interested in principle and secondly whether you can attend the meeting. If you are unable to attend, we are happy for you to send a manager in your place. We obviously realise that this undertaking needs to be kept confidential, particularly for those of you who do not publicise that you have rhinos on your property.     Carnivore Snaps Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is offering prizes for your snaps of Waterberg Leopards, African Wild Dogs, Cheetahs or Brown Hyaenas. Any picture taken with a trail camera or hand-held camera in the last 5 years is eligible. Photos showing the side of the animal are particularly useful but all pictures are welcome, even if they only show part of the animal. There are some great prizes on offer including: A 2 night stay for 2 people at the elegant and intimate Makweti Safari Lodge in the Waterberg’s Welgevonden Game Reserve, valued at up to R18 000 (includes meals and safaris) A CAMERA TRAPS cc Reconyx (HC-600 Hyperfire TM) trail camera valued at R7 000 A 7 night self-catering stay for 4 people in a luxury cottage at the Waterberg’s Izintaba Private Game Reserve, valued at R10 400 A 1-day digital photography course provided by Wild Eye Johannesburg, valued at R975 To submit your photos and enter the prize draw:E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.: Carnivore Conservation Programme,Endangered Wildlife Trust, Private Bag X11, Modderfontein, 1645, JohannesburgAlternatively, you can deposit CD/DVD’s of your photos in our drop boxes at Spar Vaalwater, Spar Modimolle and Pick n Pay Lephalale Don’t forget to include: GPS location of the camera Which pictures were taken at each camera location Your contact details and registered farm name e.g. Buffelspoort 123 If you are using a trail camera, don’t forget to set the correct date and time first Further informationFurther details of the photo contest and citizen science trail camera survey (including advice on camera placement) can be found at www.ewt.org.za     What Goes Around, Comes Around Land grabs a hundred years ago by Richard Wadley After the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886, instantly wealthy entrepreneurs needed to find ways in which to make themselves even richer. One route was to create companies that would purchase agricultural land in new areas being formally surveyed for the first time. The rationale was that the development that would surely accompany the expected growth in mining would necessitate growth in agriculture in the region. And there was always the possibility of further mineral discoveries. The Waterberg was a prime target for land acquisition: by 1899, according to a detailed map produced by Friedrich Jeppe, almost half the land (with its attendant mineral rights, of course) on the Waterberg Plateau had been ‘grabbed’ by only three land companies: the Transvaal Consolidated Land Co., which became Rand Mines; the Oceana (Transvaal) Land Co., which became absorbed into Goldfields; and the Anglo-French Land Co., which later bought control of Oceana. Others, like the Oslo Land Company, would follow. The means by which these acquisitions were made were often unscrupulous: company agents would accompany the ZAR surveyors in the field and immediately rush back to Pretoria to stake their employer’s claim on the most promising properties (at a shilling an acre!); other agents would persuade struggling existing owners to sell their land in exchange for a tenuous right to remain on it as tenants. Johann Rissik, then the Surveyor-General of the ZAR and later to become Minister of Lands in the Botha government, was concurrently a director of the Transvaal Consolidated Land Co. – reminding us (if any were needed) that conflicts of interest among Government officials and opportunistic land acquisitions are not recent phenomena! In the next few years, the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War - with its disruption of farming activity, the destruction of farmsteads, commandeering of cattle and horses, forced removal (and internment) of families and their subsequent impoverishment - aggravated by a prolonged drought, would provide further cheap acquisition opportunities for land companies. Devastating though it undoubtedly was for the Waterberg community, not every aspect of this ruthlessly capitalistic process was negative, however. Oceana, for example, lobbied the Kruger government into the construction of the railway line from Pretoria to Pietersburg (Polokwane) and even contributed the bulk of its cost. It also tried, unsuccessfully, to have a branch line built to its newly-discovered tin mine at Rooiberg. And, far from sitting idly – or expectantly - on the land they had acquired so cheaply, the companies moved quickly to hire appropriate expertise and to develop its agricultural potential. This would turn the plateau into an important beef farming region for the next century, and provide the motivation for further investments, like the railway line from Modimolle (Nylstroom) to Vaalwater. Richard WadleyRevised, October 2012 ReferencesJeppe, Friedrich (1899): Jeppe’s Map of the Transvaal or South African Republic and Surrounding Territories (Sheet 2 of 6). ZAR, Pretoria.Natrass, Gail (1989): The tin mines of the Waterberg (Transvaal), 1905-1914. Contree 26 / 1989 (5-12).Trapido, Stanley (1978): Landlord and Tenant in a Colonial Economy: The Transvaal (1880-1910). Journal of Southern African Studies 5 (1) (26-58).     Do you have a writer or photographer in the family? Maybe a writer in the family who hasn’t yet been published? A photograph in search of wide distribution? Don’t miss this opportunity to establish yourself as a published writer or photographer. Best of all, in the Newsletter of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. Get in touch with us.     Advertisements Welcome Newsletter Now Accepting Classified Advertisements Members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy can now place adverts in our Newsletter for free. We’ll put your advert in the left hand column on the first page. Don’t make it too long. Sell goods, fill job vacancies, seek employment, etc. For non-members, there is a fee of R100 per issue. The Newsletter is distributed all members at 126 addresses plus an additional 142 others who are interested in the Conservancy. That’s 268 people, and still growing.                  

Number 21, November 2012

              Occasionally issued news of interest to WNC members and others in the Waterberg Number 21, November 2012                   In this issue     Annual General MeetingDampening some Rural LegendsThe High Cost of Climate ChangeExotic Game – Some QuestionsRhino Poaching in the WaterbergCarnivore SnapsWhat Goes Around, Comes AroundDo you have a writer or photographer in the family?Advertisements Welcome     Waterberg Nature Conservancy     P O Box 1224Vaalwater0530   Secretary: Heidi Carlton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Chairman: John This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.           Visit the website www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za           Forward to a friend       Know someone who might be interested in the newsletter? Why not forward this email to them.     Unsubscribe     Don’t want to receive this Newsletter anymore. Please {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe} to this newsletter.     Annual General Meeting Date: Thursday 22 November 2012 Venue: Vaalwater Rivier Oord (two km past the Spar on the old Ellisras Road, turn left) Time: 3:00 pm Note 3:00 pm start time! This AGM will be a bit different from our normal meetings. You’ll hear the Conservancy Financial Report and the Chairman’s Annual Report, of course, but we will also elect the 2013 Executive Committee, announce our Waterberg Conservationist of the Year, learn how you can contribute to Pompom Weed Day in January, and see what we’re doing about other invasive and exotic vegetation.   After all that, a wide-open discussion, with guidance from John Wesson, about the future of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. John Wesson is the Chairman of the National Association of Conservancies/Stewardship South Africa (NACSSA) as well as Region Manager Conservation, Wildlife & Environment Society of SA (WESSA). For this important issue alone, we urge you to attend the meeting. We’ll conclude with a lekker dinner, most of which provided by the generosity of Marc Dieltjens: sushi, trout, wine and much more. Non-members are invited to join us for the dinner at a charge of R75. We absolutely need your RSVP to Heidi Carlton no later than Monday 12 November 2012. Call her at 082 336 8757. Dampening some Rural Legends by Richard Wadley A popular statement, in these days filled with assertions about climate change and global warming, is that it doesn’t rain as much in the Waterberg as it used to. And who’s to deny that? The very name “Waterberg”, to say nothing of other names like “24 Rivers”, “Sterkstroom” etc., conjure up an image of this enormous spongy aquifer, saturated with limitless supplies of water. The truth, of course, well known to most of us who have injected thousands of rands into this ‘sponge’ down dry boreholes, is that generally, our Waterberg is anything but a bounteous source of water. There are a few fortunate holes, drilled into one of the major fractures that transect the region, that do indeed have yields of tens of thousands of litres per hour; but for the most part, Waterberg aquifers are young, small, fracture-fill reservoirs, that empty fast and refill quickly during the rains. And as soon as they fill, they spill – resulting in numerous glistening seeps and springs that give the impression that there is much more water beneath the surface than is actually the case. As to the legend that rains in historical times were heavier than today, the facts suggest otherwise: my analysis of rainfall records in our area, around Tafelkop and Sondagsloop, covering a continuous period from 1930, shows a distinct, if very slight upward trend in rainfall over that 80 year period, from an annual mean of about 580 mm in 1930 to around 610 mm today. Small, yes, but significant. Long may it continue. And that’s not all: another popular rural legend is that if the rains should commence before Kruger Day (10 October), watch out – a dry season is looming!I’m not able to extract rainfall prior to 10 October for all the years concerned, but certainly, the rainfall that is recorded in the period from July to end-October since 1930 provides no clue whatsoever as to the total that might be recorded for the season as a whole. There is just no trend evident (Chart 1). Oom Paul can rest in peace.   Chart 1 Chart 2 What does appear to be true, however (Chart 2), is that good early rains (i.e. before end-October) might lead to poorer rainfall in the second half of the season (January-July); in other words, good early rains could mean that the whole season could be earlier (though not necessarily poorer) than normal – although even here, the trend is weak. As we see this season, the veld seems to welcome the early rain, with many species flowering and fruiting more prolifically than usual; but it could also result in a long, dry winter, especially if followed by a late or poor season the following year.   The High Cost of Climate Change by Alan Harman; Published in Farmer’s Weekly, 15 October 2012, reprinted by permission. Some 100 million people worldwide will die in the next 18 years as a result of climate change, according to a report commissioned by 20 governments and prepared by the humanitarian organisation, DARA. Global economic growth will be cut by 3,2% of gross domestic product by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change. Doing little or nothing about climate change is already causing R9,9 trillion in losses around the world, and these costs will escalate rapidly.The report links climate change and the carbon economy to 5 million deaths a year.Of these, 400 000 are due to hunger and communicable diseases aggravated by climate change, while 4,5 million deaths are linked to air pollution, hazardous occupations and cancer.The report said South Africa’s average annual economic costs due to climate change were R411 million in 2010. This would rise to R2,05 billion in 2030.Launching the report during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina said a 1°C rise in temperature would lead to a 10% productivity loss in farming.Virtually all of the costliest drought years have occurred in the past two decades and the impact is very widespread, with some 160 countries likely to experience high vulnerability to drought by 2030, said the report.     Exotic Game – Some Questions by Ken Maud When you keep on blowing up a balloon it will eventually burst. Throughout history there have been investment opportunities that have caught the imagination of the public and which, through greed and ingenuity, have caused prices to rise way beyond where they should be. It is usually the people who get drawn into the situation long after it has started that are left holding the balloon when it bursts. It is the insiders that get in early in the cycle who usually make the profits …unless they, too, get carried away and greed takes over. Given the recent price escalations in so called “exotic game” or Crowned Game one must ask the question whether the balloon is being blown up much too quickly. Twenty one years ago in 1991 there were recorded sales of only 7 Sable antelope in auctions in the whole of South Africa. The price of those Sables was R25,285. By August 2012 the number of Sable auctioned (excluding Zambian, West Zambian and Tanzania bloodlines) had risen to 440 and we still have two months of sales to report! The average price for last year appears to be R177,966 with the latest record price being R12,200,000 paid for a Zambian bull and R525,000 for a Matetsi bull! There are added factors that one has to give careful consideration to. What is the end game plan for the animals? Are they to be hunted? If so, who is going to pay the high prices to shoot them? There will always be a select few hunters who could afford them at the current high prices but for the average hunter it is surely out of the question. Another question that should be asked is: will the breeder risk putting his R150,000 Sable out into the veld when there is a good chance that it may be taken by a leopard or be infected by ticks and now needs to fend for himself without special diets? It would certainly be an interesting exercise to see what would happen to these highly priced and pampered animals if they were to be set free in their natural environments. Has anyone tried? Is anyone prepared to take the chance? If not, why are they being bred? Although we have used Sable as an example in this article surely the same arguments can be made for the other so called exotic species such as Buffalo, Roan, Nyala, etc? The question of colour variants is a whole different issue but I would expect the same logic must eventually apply? More recently there have been a number of articles comparing the growth in prices in exotic game to the stock market indices, the price of gold and other measurables. Again history has shown when that begins to happen we are nearing the end of the cycle. In case we think we are immune I refer you to a wonderful book written by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841, and called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The simple law of economics dictates that supply is soon going to exceed demand. If we take the high number of applications that only Limpopo Province receives this can happen very soon. What is then going to happen to the price? With the maturity of the game industry in South Africa we are already seeing the prices of regular plains game tailoring off.     Rhino Poaching in the Waterberg by Victoria Crake Dear Rhino Owners and Members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy, I work at Ant’s Nest for Ant and Tessa Baber. We were hit by rhino poachers in December 2011 and they killed one of our white rhino cows together with her eleven month old baby. Despite beefing up security, we were hit again at the end of July this year, when another of our cows was shot. Pelham Jones has told us that history dictates that once one rhino has been poached, the poachers will return again and again until they have wiped out the entire population. For obvious reasons we are extremely keen that any plans to do this are thwarted as quickly as possible. We decided to find a vehicle to raise funds to dedicate to protecting our rhinos from poaching. Our plight was recently publicised by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, who posted a message on his website. Following this we had offers of support from all over the world. However, we do not just want to help ourselves; we want to help other rhino owners and landowners in the Waterberg area. We understand from personal experience that the necessary enhanced security comes at a massive cost to private rhino owners. We feel that there is a need for an area-wide initiative. Rather than setting up our own charity, we decided to link up with OSCAP (www.oscap.co.za) and want to our initiative to benefit rhino owners all over the Waterberg area. We have called this initiative “Save the Waterberg Rhinos”. OSCAP has set up a separate bank account for us to accept donations into, and we plan to make this completely transparent to donors in order that they know exactly where their money is going. Any funds raised through this initiative will be put towards securing rhinos in the Waterberg and perhaps eventually even further afield. Any initiative which aids rhino security will also assist in the general security of the area. We very much hope that you would like to become involved in this initiative. You may be a rhino owner who has not yet been hit by poaching but sadly it is probably only a matter of time. We have movement all over our farm on a daily basis and thought it couldn’t happen to us, but it has – twice. We are looking for people from the local community who would like to become involved in both overseeing the management of the initiative and rhino owners who we can assist. Additionally some lodges may be able to approach their client database for assistance in fundraising, specifically to help themselves. We are researching, together with OSCAP, a number of high tech options for protecting rhinos, including CCTV cameras on fence lines and a camera system mounted in a balloon (originally developed by the Israeli military for use on their borders) which has both conventional and infra-red technology. We can see some of these applications working alongside the more traditional ‘feet on the ground.’ In addition to this OSCAP has donated a tracker dog to us. Please be aware that this dog is available to any landowners in the local area who notice that they have suffered an incursion on their land. We would like to hold a meeting in November to get as many rhino owners in the area as possible together to agree on a way forward for this. Any local landowners and business owners who are interested in getting involved are also very welcome to attend. We would like to use this as a brainstorming session and feel the more people we can get together the better. This meeting will be held at Ant’s Nest on Friday 16th November at 10am. We will be providing lunch for those who wish to stay on after the meeting. Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. firstly to let me know if you are interested in principle and secondly whether you can attend the meeting. If you are unable to attend, we are happy for you to send a manager in your place. We obviously realise that this undertaking needs to be kept confidential, particularly for those of you who do not publicise that you have rhinos on your property.     Carnivore Snaps Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is offering prizes for your snaps of Waterberg Leopards, African Wild Dogs, Cheetahs or Brown Hyaenas. Any picture taken with a trail camera or hand-held camera in the last 5 years is eligible. Photos showing the side of the animal are particularly useful but all pictures are welcome, even if they only show part of the animal. There are some great prizes on offer including: A 2 night stay for 2 people at the elegant and intimate Makweti Safari Lodge in the Waterberg’s Welgevonden Game Reserve, valued at up to R18 000 (includes meals and safaris) A CAMERA TRAPS cc Reconyx (HC-600 Hyperfire TM) trail camera valued at R7 000 A 7 night self-catering stay for 4 people in a luxury cottage at the Waterberg's Izintaba Private Game Reserve, valued at R10 400 A 1-day digital photography course provided by Wild Eye Johannesburg, valued at R975 To submit your photos and enter the prize draw:E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.: Carnivore Conservation Programme,Endangered Wildlife Trust, Private Bag X11, Modderfontein, 1645, JohannesburgAlternatively, you can deposit CD/DVD’s of your photos in our drop boxes at Spar Vaalwater, Spar Modimolle and Pick n Pay Lephalale Don’t forget to include: GPS location of the camera Which pictures were taken at each camera location Your contact details and registered farm name e.g. Buffelspoort 123 If you are using a trail camera, don't forget to set the correct date and time first Further informationFurther details of the photo contest and citizen science trail camera survey (including advice on camera placement) can be found at www.ewt.org.za     What Goes Around, Comes Around Land grabs a hundred years ago by Richard Wadley After the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886, instantly wealthy entrepreneurs needed to find ways in which to make themselves even richer. One route was to create companies that would purchase agricultural land in new areas being formally surveyed for the first time. The rationale was that the development that would surely accompany the expected growth in mining would necessitate growth in agriculture in the region. And there was always the possibility of further mineral discoveries. The Waterberg was a prime target for land acquisition: by 1899, according to a detailed map produced by Friedrich Jeppe, almost half the land (with its attendant mineral rights, of course) on the Waterberg Plateau had been grabbed by only three land companies: the Transvaal Consolidated Land Co., which became Rand Mines; the Oceana (Transvaal) Land Co., which became absorbed into Goldfields; and the Anglo-French Land Co., which later bought control of Oceana. Others, like the Oslo Land Company, would follow. The means by which these acquisitions were made were often unscrupulous: company agents would accompany the ZAR surveyors in the field and immediately rush back to Pretoria to stake their employer’s claim on the most promising properties (at a shilling an acre!); other agents would persuade struggling existing owners to sell their land in exchange for a tenuous right to remain on it as tenants. Johann Rissik, then the Surveyor-General of the ZAR and later to become Minister of Lands in the Botha government, was concurrently a director of the Transvaal Consolidated Land Co.  -  reminding us (if any were needed) that conflicts of interest among Government officials and opportunistic land acquisitions are not recent phenomena! In the next few years, the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War - with its disruption of farming activity, the destruction of farmsteads, commandeering of cattle and horses, forced removal (and internment) of families and their subsequent impoverishment - aggravated by a prolonged drought, would provide further cheap acquisition opportunities for land companies. Devastating though it undoubtedly was for the Waterberg community, not every aspect of this ruthlessly capitalistic process was negative, however. Oceana, for example, lobbied the Kruger government into the construction of the railway line from Pretoria to Pietersburg (Polokwane) and even contributed the bulk of its cost. It also tried, unsuccessfully, to have a branch line built to its newly-discovered tin mine at Rooiberg. And, far from sitting idly - or expectantly - on the land they had acquired so cheaply, the companies moved quickly to hire appropriate expertise and to develop its agricultural potential. This would turn the plateau into an important beef farming region for the next century, and provide the motivation for further investments, like the railway line from Modimolle (Nylstroom) to Vaalwater. Richard WadleyRevised, October 2012 ReferencesJeppe, Friedrich (1899): Jeppe’s Map of the Transvaal or South African Republic and Surrounding Territories (Sheet 2 of 6). ZAR, Pretoria.Natrass, Gail (1989): The tin mines of the Waterberg (Transvaal), 1905-1914. Contree 26 / 1989 (5-12).Trapido, Stanley (1978): Landlord and Tenant in a Colonial Economy: The Transvaal (1880-1910). Journal of Southern African Studies 5 (1) (26-58).     Do you have a writer or photographer in the family? Maybe a writer in the family who hasn’t yet been published? A photograph in search of wide distribution? Don’t miss this opportunity to establish yourself as a published writer or photographer. Best of all, in the Newsletter of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy. Get in touch with us.     Advertisements Welcome Newsletter Now Accepting Classified Advertisements Members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy can now place adverts in our Newsletter for free. We'll put your advert in the left hand column on the first page. Don't make it too long. Sell goods, fill job vacancies, seek employment, etc. For non-members, there is a fee of R100 per issue. The Newsletter is distributed all members at 126 addresses plus an additional 142 others who are interested in the Conservancy. That's 268 people, and still growing.                  

Number 20, September 2012

Waterberg Nature Conservancy Newslette       Occasionally issued news of interest to WNC members and others in the Waterberg Number 20, September 2012   In this issue     Next General Meeting The Rhino Keepers: Struggle for Survival Pangolin Positive News About Eskom! The Bottled Water Scam Provincial Air Quality Management Plan Aliens and Invaders of the Waterberg Verges on the Melkrivier Road Greater Marakele Security Hub Join the Conservancy Photos, Photos, Photos Stories, Stories, Stories Member Profiles     Waterberg Nature Conservancy     P O Box 1224 Vaalwater 0530   Secretary: Heidi Carlton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Chairman: John Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Newsletter items by John Miller unless otherwise attributed     Visit the website www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za           Forward to a friend       Know someone who might be interested in the newsletter? Why not forward this email to them.     Unsubscribe     Don’t want to receive this Newsletter anymore. Please {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe} to this newsletter.     Correction: In Newsletter Number 19, July 2012, the photographs of the Waterberg Mountain Bicycle Race were wrong attributed. They were in fact taken by Conservancy member Robin Taylor of African Film Works. We apologize for the error.     Next General Meeting Date: Thursday 20 September 2012 Venue: Vaalwater Rivier Oord (two km past the Spar on the old Ellisras Road, turn left) Time: 2:00 pm Guest Speaker: Frits van Oudtshoorn Waterberg Grasses and Grasslands To sustainably manage Waterberg veld, like any other veld, it is extremely important to know and understand the ecological processes governing the ecology. Examples of such processes are natural grazing patterns, nutrient recycling and even the role of fire. Grasses play an important part in the ecology, not only as primary producers of food, but also as indicators of veld condition. Knowing your grasses, together with an understanding of local ecological processes, can go a long way to improve veld management for sustainability. Frits van Oudtshoorn is a grass and pasture specialist who by good chance resides among us, in Modimolle. He is a pasture consultant with a particular focus on increasing grazing capacity on the farm. Frits holds a masters degree in Nature Conservation, specialising in restoration ecology. He is the author of the book Guide to grasses of Southern Africa, first published in 1991, revised in 1999 and then again in 2012. He is also involved in training and has a tree lucerne nursery. --------------------------------------------------- And More: Gustav Collins: Snakes in the Waterberg Gustav Collins, a Waterberg resident and amateur herpetologist, will talk about reptile biology, snake identification, snakebite treatment, and snake handling. Gustav was the Chairman of the Transvaal Herpetological Association for six years. He developed the first snake identification and snake bite treatment courses in South Africa to be accredited by FGASA. --------------------------------------------------- Food and Drink RSVP to Heidi Carlton by Tuesday 18 September 2012       The Rhino Keepers: Struggle for Survival by Nicolette van Brakel FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) Reprinted with Permission Few animals face as violent, as well organised, and as determined an enemy as the world’s rhinos. Across the continent, rhinos are being slaughtered on a daily basis and approximately 5,000 black rhinos and 21,000 white rhinos are all that prevent Africa’s rhinos from extinction. The Rhino Keepers is a personal story of the conservation of the rhinos in Southern Africa. It charts the ongoing struggle for survival of these amazing animals told through the experiences and insights of preeminent conservationists, Clive and Anton Walker. Clive’s and Anton’s book describes these fascinating animals and the reason behind their historical decline, the myths that surround them and discusses the resurrection of the rhino horn trade. They carefully unpack the complications of opening up a ‘legal’ trade in horn and the views of those who oppose such measures. This real life account of the rhino wars presents a harrowing story that underscores the enormous challenges that lie ahead for conservation in a world where rhino horns sold by the gram raise double the price of gold and are more expensive than cocaine in the end-user Asian markets. This book is for anyone who has been appalled over the past few years at the senseless slaughter of these magnificent animals. It urges readers to question the way we manage our natural heritage and implores us to recognise our role as rhino keepers of the future. Clive Walker entered the battle for the rhino with the founding of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1973. He co-founded the Rhino and Elephant Foundation and the African Rhino Owners Association, and served on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group for close on 14 years. He served as a member of the South African National Parks Board from 2000 to 2006. Clive’s son, Anton Walker, as a school boy, travelled together with his father to India and Nepal in 1984 to view the one-horned Indian rhinos and tigers in the wild. Anton largely grew up at Lapalala Wilderness where his parents assisted the late Dale Parker in the establishment of the reserve which has become an important rhino sanctuary. Lapalala was the first private reserve in South Africa to introduce the black rhino. Anton joined the permanent staff of the reserve in 1996 and is today the general manager of the 36,000-ha sanctuary. He has worked closely with both species of rhino over the past 16 years in all areas of management, monitoring, field operations, capture and care. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Waterberg Museum Foundation’s Rhino Programme. The Rhino Keepers: Struggle for Survival. Clive and Anton Walker, Jacana, 2012.         Pangolin Photo by Liz Hunter: a rare sighting of a female Pangolin with a baby on her back, taken on the D171 (the Beauty Road) in October 2011.           Positive News About Eskom! How often do so many of us despair at the poor performance of so-called service providers? The answer is – very often. Whether it’s our telephone land line monopolist, our cell phone company, our bank, our local municipality, our provincial roads department, or virtually anyone who tells us “I’ll be there on Thursday at 9 in the morning”, and is not, or tells us “I’ll get back to you tomorrow”, and doesn’t – it’s a woeful story, no fun at all, and a sad reflection of the way our country operates. My experience with Eskom is an exception, and I know many of you will agree with me. I’m definitely not speaking of the Eskom that has raised our rates so high so fast that electricity has become one of our largest monthly expenses. Nor am I at all speaking of the Eskom that continues to insist on reliance on coal for most of its power generation, acting as if there is no alternative in its long range planning. Rather, I am speaking of the local Eskom technical team based in Vaalwater. In the winter, much of their time is spent on maintenance. This often includes clearing vegetation that threatens lines, poles, and access; repairing rotting poles, or replacing those gutted by veld fires, frequently in deserted, hard-to-reach places where gates are locked and the owners are absent. In the summer, most of their work is in response to power outages, the result of powerful storms that send branches and trees crashing through wires, or lightning that knocks out a substation, or more lightning that trips the fuse on transformers on our property. With its improved monitoring system, the team is aware of faults immediately. They can now isolate the location of the fault. In fact, they frequently begin repair work before we are able to report the problem to the call centre. More often than not, the teams are called out on weekends or at night – often in the middle of a storm – and must work under difficult, dangerous conditions to make a repair. When there are multiple concurrent outages, their resources are stretched, clients lose their cool, phone lines are clogged with fault reports and complaints; and expressions of thanks are rare. This is not a job for the faint-hearted. The Eskom Technical Service Centre in Vaalwater, led by Moses Mosue, has consistently provided excellent and expeditious responses to our troubles to the best of its ability (which is very, very good). On behalf of Waterberg Nature Conservancy members and others in our community, I want to publically express our gratitude to Moses and his team – Jan van der Linde, Ephraim Malatse, John Mbedzi, Paul Seema, Moses Makgae, Lucky Mthombeni, Vincent Maphanga, and Ms Gaonewe Bogatsu. Thanks guys! You are doing a great job, and set an example for other service providers everywhere to follow. We hope your management recognises the contribution you’re making, provides you with the resources you need and rewards you for your efforts.           The Bottled Water Scam Upon being seated at an upscale restaurant in Johannesburg not long ago, hearing about the menu from the waiter and actually ordering our meal, we were then asked what we might like to drink. Ignoring the two bottles of wine and one bottle of water already on the table, we asked for two glasses of tap water, with ice. The immediate response was an unsmiling negative – no, we only serve bottled water. No, we said, we only drink tap water. Back and forth without any sign that the chap was weakening. We called for the manager, who promptly appeared and even much more sternly told us absolutely not, no tap water. We said we’d then leave. He urged us to do so. That little tale is as much about the woeful state of the service industry in the country as it is about the scam of bottled water, but still it is a good introduction to the following, reprinted by permission of the author, Donald McCallum (Wits School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences). Riding the wave of the bottled water marketing myth It is truly staggering what good marketing can achieve. To create a growing consumer base for something as readily available as clean drinking water and to sell it at more than 1000 times the cost of tap water has to be admired. It takes up to three litres of tap water to produce one litre of bottled water. At around R6 for a 500ml bottle of water, compared to less than half a cent for tap water, bottled water is more costly than petrol, even after the latest increase. The promotion of bottled water has been so successful that organisations, even local government, will commit their limited resources to supplying bottled water at events. I am personally not comfortable with my taxes being spent on something that can be almost free, and which is a constitutional right for all. In September 2010, the Mail & Guardian reported that bottled water is the second fastest growing beverage in the country. The value of the world market for bottled water in 2011 was estimated to be around R629 billion. In South Africa, this translates into a staggering 1.2 trillion plastic bottles a year – most of which litter the streets, leaving an unwelcome legacy for our children. The material and energy required to produce the packaging and distribution of bottled water is in excess of 200 million barrels of oil. Claims that bottled water is a green product do not stand up to scrutiny. One needs to contrast the idyllic settings of bottled water advertising with the heaps of empty bottles at disposal sites and those that litter the countryside. The production of bottled water uses more water than the rate at which it is purchased – up to three litres of tap water or more is needed to produce one litre of bottled water. How is this possible? People seem to be more concerned about making healthy choices today, and water is definitely a healthy option. The problem is that there is a perception that the health benefits of water apply more to bottled water than to tap water. This is not the case. There are rigorous standards that tap water must meet in Johannesburg, and the quality is constantly monitored. Presently, the quality of tap water in Johannesburg is of the best in the world. Recently beverage company Coca Cola was under pressure in the USA to acknowledge that some brands of the water that it sells are bottled from municipal supplies. The words ‘bottled at source’ have a very different meaning when the ultimate source is an ordinary tap. The requirements for water quality in the USA are far more stringent for public supplies than for bottled water, so consumers’ faith in the ‘purity’ of bottled water may be misplaced. There are also subtle social pressures. It is so much ‘cooler’ to be seen to be drinking bottled water rather than free tap water. For some, it may feel awkward to order tap water at a restaurant. The price paid for bottled water is only one part of a much greater environmental cost. Growing opposition. While the demand for bottled water increases with many new brands and massive advertising campaigns, there is also growing opposition. At least 70 cities in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia have banned the use of bottled water. The World Wide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace both advocate the use of tap water wherever good quality supplies exist. A recent victory for the environment has been the banning of bottled water in the Grand Canyon National Park in the USA. Save money, save the environment. Order tap water at restaurants. Get yourself a suitable bottle for re-using and fill up at taps or drinking fountains (the plastic bottles in which water is packaged are not suitable for re-use; when exposed to heat - for example when left in a car - the bottles can release toxic chemicals). A good alternative is stainless steel bottles, which are durable and long lasting. Use your influence to prevent the unnecessary use of bottled water. Encourage your organisation to do the right thing and lead by example. Donate the money you save by drinking tap water to your favourite charity!           Provincial Air Quality Management Plan by Kelly Abram Although there is a National Air Quality Act, each province is mandated to produce its own air quality management plan that takes into account the specifics of the province. In Limpopo, LEDET is tasked with this project and has engaged Airshed Planning Professionals, C&M Consulting Engineers and Zitholele Consulting to assist. The Management Plan aims to improve air quality; to address the effect of emissions from domestic fuel burning, industrial operations, vehicles and other sources; to give effect to best practice in air quality management; and to describe how local municipalities will give effect to their air quality management plan. The process will undertake the following: goal setting; baseline assessment (current step); intervention strategies; action plan implementation; and evaluation and follow-up. Stakeholders will be identified and involved. Partnerships with key stakeholders will be established. The plan will ultimately outline the present air quality situation and examine how and which activity sectors are causing which kinds of air quality problems. Strategies to address these problems will be devised. By engaging with stakeholders from the beginning of the process it is hoped that a workable, implementable action plan will be achieved. The management plan will look at both sources and the receiving environment, that is, the dispersion patterns and where air pollutants end up in the environment. The plan will look at all sources of pollutants not only industrial sources. The plan will be standardised so that comparison among provinces and even districts will be possible. The plan will: Provide a baseline assessment by identifying Provincial priority pollutants: sources and areas; Establish Provincial air quality and emission standards; Appoint a Provincial Air Quality Officer; Prepare a Provincial management plan as part of their Environmental Implementation Plan (EIP); Establish a system to monitor ambient air quality; Declare Provincial priority areas; Establish a system of annual reports regarding the implementation (i.e., are the goals being achieved?); Prescribe regulations for implementing and enforcing the management plan; Perform emission licensing authority functions; Declare and set requirements for controlled fuels; Establish a programme of public recognition of significant achievement in air pollution prevention; Prescribe measures for the control of dust, noise and odours. The Waterberg Nature Conservancy and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve were represented at the first meeting (7 June 2012). The meeting introduced the project, identified the relevant stakeholders and requested assistance in gathering baseline data. The baseline data report is available from the consultants. The subsequent meeting was held on 7 August, but neither the Conservancy nor Biosphere was represented, sad to say. The meeting was intended to focus on an emission inventory for all major polluters, specifying the location of each source and the time variations in the emissions.             Aliens and Invaders of the Waterberg by Richard Wadley Just when you thought it was safe to go into the mountains again... And it’s true: our pristine, Biosphere-protected plateau is being invaded, mainly from the south, by a determined force of ruthless exploitative aliens from other lands or their allies from elsewhere in the country. And on this occasion, I’m not referring to humans with strange-sounding accents or GP-plated SUVs (although some of them too, could use a pesticide or two). No, the reference here is to an ever-increasing group of plant species that would like to make our plateau their home – preferably, or inevitably, at the expense of those species whose home this has been since time immemorial and whose presence is what caused the area to be declared a biosphere reserve in the first place. There are already many names in this group, some posing more of an immediate threat than others. Several, like the ubiquitous gum (Eucalyptus spp) or the garden syringa (Melia azedarach), or the jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) are so well-established – and sadly, so well-loved by some – that they are hardly considered to be aliens any more. But aliens they remain; and if you watch them carefully, you might see them shedding skin or changing colour, or smiling cruelly to themselves as they suck the moisture from the ground or crowd out some indigenous species struggling to survive under their toxic shade. In the coming summer, the Conservancy will once again run a campaign to rid our region of one of the most pernicious and aggressive of these aliens: the Pom Pom weed (Campuloclinium macrocephalum). Details will be communicated in due course, but we hope to build on last summer’s small but successful pilot project to launch an all out attack on this deceptively attractive roadside floozie, hopefully with the assistance of Working for Water, ARC, SANBI, the Biosphere, local schools and game reserves. In the meanwhile, we will be putting together a series of information sheets, each of which will describe a particular species of obnoxious alien / invader, together with details on how you, the conservation-oriented reader, can go about identifying the species and taking steps to eliminate it from your property. These sheets, which will start to appear within the next month or so, will be produced both electronically and in hard copy. Initially, they will be written in English, but we would like to produce them in Afrikaans and North Sotho too, provided we can find people with the requisite skill and patience to make the translations. Volunteers for this task are sought urgently. Most of the information to be included in the sheets will not be new: it will be obtained from one of the several excellent existing publications about alien, invasive and problem plants, as well as lifted from the outstanding material published online by the Agricultural Research Council on its very accessible website www.arc.agric.za. In particular, the highly informative SAPIA News series compiled by Lesley Henderson of the Plant Protection Research Institute of ARC (go to “News Articles” on the above website) will be raided for anything that can be used (SAPIA stands for South African Plant Invaders Atlas). Our thanks in advance go to Lesley and the ARC team. The list of offenders is long, but initially, the intention is to focus on the following hardened individuals: Gums (Eucalyptus spp) of every description – not just because they’re Australian, but also because they are robbing our land of its scarce water resources Bankrupt bush (Seriphium plumosum = Stoebe vulgaris) – the invader from the Cape fynbos that is crowding out the already limited edible grassland Lantana (Lantana camara) – a poisonous plant that reduces pasturage and creates impenetrable thickets Queen of the Night (Cereus jamacaru) – the naboom-like cactus that displaces grazing - and only flowers when everyone is asleep Prickly pears (Opuntia spp) - introduced from Central America and widely cultivated for their fruit, as a fodder and as a hedge, they are rapacious invaders Wattles (Acacia spp) – not only because they are also Australian and have now succeeded in stealing the name Acacia (which means thorned) for their exclusive use despite having no thorns, but because like their cousins the gums, they are voraciously thirsty (i.e. Australian) Fluff bush or pluisbos (Lopholaena coriifolia) – another indigenous invader, which grows in alliance with bankrupt bush to destroy grazing Pom Pom weed (Campuloclinium macrocephalum) – the pink lady described above. We will add to the list as we go along – names of additional suspects will be welcomed.           Join the Conservancy For those of you in the Waterberg who are receiving this Newsletter but are not Conservancy members, please join us. The 67 members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy reflect a variety of bush activities – private reserves and private homes, tourism operations, game ranching, hunting, commercial agriculture, conservation research, environmental education, small business.           Verges on the Melkrivier Road The Limpopo Provincial Department of Roads and Transport (DRT) is responsible for maintaining the verges on its roads, including of course on the D972 (Vaalwater to Melkrivier). For traffic safety reasons alone, it is important to keep the verges clear and visible. In fire season, however, it is even more important to keep the verges mowed, thus effectively expanding the fire break beyond the width of the road itself. In response to a recent letter about these issues from the Vaalwater Landbou Unie, the DRT’s position is worth sharing. On 11 September, Mr Ntau Letebele, the Head of Department, wrote: Whilst we note importance of putting fire breaks outside the road reserve, the owner of the farm equally has the responsibility of maintaining the firebreaks from time to time. We acknowledge the fact that the grass may be too tall in the road reserves and need to be cut. There are also a few places on the said road where we noticed that bush clearing and grass cutting should be done. We would also like to recognize the farmers along the road who are doing grass cutting by their own means. We would like to applaud them and this shows a good public, private relationship. The road between Vaalwater and Melkrivier, namely the portion between kilometre 38 and 45 is under construction. The contractor is busy with reseal work. One lane has been resealed and the other lane has been primed and only seal work is outstanding. Again on Road D972 (Vaalwater – Melkrivier), the following portions need bush clearing and grass cutting: between kilometre 10 and 15; between kilometre 30 and 45.           Greater Marakele Security Hub Notification Dear Members of the Public Notice is hereby given that consideration is to be given for an application to be lodged for the erection of ten (10) control points within the road reserve boundaries of the roads listed below. These control points collectively make up the Greater Marakele Security Hub. A submission is to be made by Marakele National Park, Shambala Game Reserve and Welgevonden Game Reserve on behalf of landowners within the Greater Marakele Hub to Roads Agency Limpopo (Pty) Ltd (RAL) according to Section 48 (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) (7) and (8) of Act No 7 of 1998 (Northern Province Roads Agency (Pty) Limited and Provincial Roads Act, 1998) A Junction of R517/510 and D1371 (Schoongelegen Rd) B Junction of R517/510 and D1679 (Bakkerpass Rd) C Junction of D1679 and D794 D D794, One Km northeast of the D928 intersection E Intersection of D794, D928 and D1485 F D928, 19Km north of D928 and D794 intersection G Junction of D928 and D1371 (Schoongelegen Rd) H Junction of D1951 and D1371 (Schoongelegen Rd) I West gate on the D1371 (Schoongelegen Rd) J Junction of R517/510 and East gate Rd Comments and Objections to the application may be lodged at two separate public meetings. The first to be held at Marakele National Park on 27 September at 10:00 in the Marakele Board Room and the second to be held at Welgevonden Game Reserve on 28 September at 10:00 in the Training Centre, Main Gate. Comments and objections may also be forwarded by e-mail to the following address within 21 days from the date of this advertisement: The Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Fax to Suné at 086 501 8400 This is a collaborative initiative between the Expanded Public Works Program- Working on Land (Environmental Monitors) funded by DEA, SANParks, Shambala Game Reserve, Welgevonden Game Reserve, Quemic and Private Land Owners.       Photos, Photos, Photos We need your photos for the Conservancy Newsletter. Good photos, interesting views, unique pictures – please share!     Stories, Stories, Stories We need your stories, articles, essays, announcements for the Conservancy Newsletter. Good stories, interesting articles, relevant essays, timely announcements – please share!                  

Number 19, July 2012

Occasionally issued news of interest to WNC members and others in the Waterberg Number 19, July 2012   In this issue     Next General Meeting Join the Conservancy New Website Pangolins in the Waterberg Waterberg Conservationist of the Year Award African Wild Dogs in the Waterberg and South Africa Air Quality Where on Earth is Magnetic North? Biking the Blues Away Photos, Photos, Photos Stories, Stories, Stories Member Profiles Farm for Sale     Waterberg Nature Conservancy     P O Box 1224 Vaalwater 0530   Secretary: Heidi Carlton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Chairman: John Miller This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.     Newsletter items by John Miller unless otherwise attributed     Visit the website www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za           Forward to a friend     Know someone who might be interested in the Newsletter? Why not forward this email to them.     Unsubscribe   Don’t want to receive this Newsletter anymore? Please {unsubscribe}Unsubscribe{/unsubscribe} to this newsletter.     Next General Meeting Date: Thursday 26 July Venue: Vaalwater Rivier Oord (two km past the Spar on the old Ellisras Road, turn left) Time: 2:00 pm Note winter starting time, 2:00 pm (not 2:30 pm) Guest Speaker: Lyn Wadley Medicinal plants used as insecticides 77,000 years ago in South Africa At our last meeting we heard about modern uses of plant medicines from Ben-Erik van Wyk. Now the theme is taken into the deep past with a case study from Sibudu Cave (KwaZulu-Natal) where people used medicinal plants as early as 77,000 years ago. Lyn Wadley will show how the archaeological evidence was assembled and interpreted. People who lived in the cave 77,000 years ago constructed plant bedding from sedges topped with aromatic leaves. The Cryptocarya woodii (River Wild Quince) leaves contain insecticidal chemicals that would have repelled mosquitoes and other insects. This is the earliest evidence anywhere in the world for the use of medicinal plants. Lyn has more credentials than simply living in the Waterberg and being a member of the Conservancy. She obtained her Masters degree in Archaeology from the University of Cape Town and her PhD in Archaeology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She lectured at Wits University from 1982 to 2004 and is now an Honorary Professor in the Archaeology Department, and the Institute for Human Evolution at the University. She is the author of more than 100 scientific papers and is a National Research Foundation (NRF) A-rated scientist. --------------------------------------------------- And More: Gerrit Ferreira: Modimolle Fire Protection Association Jessica Babich: African Pangolin Working Group and Lapalala News --------------------------------------------------- Food and Drink RSVP to Heidi Carlton by Tuesday 24 July 2012 Join the Conservancy For those of you in the Waterberg who are receiving this Newsletter but are not Conservancy members, please join us. The 67 members of the Waterberg Nature Conservancy reflect a variety of bush activities – private reserves and private homes, tourism operations, game ranching, hunting, commercial agriculture, conservation research, environmental education, small business.   New Website We’ve created a brand new website that you will find very easy to use and quite full of Conservancy news and activities. If you have any suggestions or corrections for it, please let us know. Take a look: www.waterbergnatureconservancy.org.za       Pangolins in the Waterberg by Jessica Babich If anybody wished you “Happy Pangolin Day” on 18 February 2012, your initial reaction would most probably have been, “What on earth is a pangolin?”. Or perhaps not… Maybe you are some of the lucky few, who have had the privilege of seeing this remarkable little mammal in the wild. Photograph by Lapalala Wilderness/Wild Revolution Seldom seen, this elusive scaly mammal patrols the African landscapes under the cover of night - many people do not even know it exists. But not for long. There are plans afoot to change awareness surrounding this special animal on a global scale, as well as conduct research on this mammal across the African continent. Photograph by Lapalala Wilderness/Wild Revolution In June 2011, Lapalala Wilderness was the venue for the first ever African Pangolin Working Group (APWG) meeting, a newly founded initiative based on the gap of knowledge currently surrounding these rare and endangered animals. The APWG is now also affiliated with the IUCN. The APWG is team that consists of academics, researchers, filmmakers, conservationists and wildlife rehabilitators, each of whom bring a particular set of expertise to the initiative. The APWG seeks to research, rehabilitate and collect genetic data of pangolins across Southern Africa and other African countries – while educating communities about its conservation and learning more about the cultural significance of the animal. APWG chairman, Prof Ray Jansen (Head of the Department of the Environment, Water and Earth Sciences at Tshwane University of Technology), explains further, “The idea was born a few months ago, where interested parties got together looking at a particular species where we know very little about.” A common concern for this intriguing animal brought the group together to map a way forward in conserving this vulnerable species. Past studies in the Lowveld area and current studies by Darren Pietersen in the Kalahari have given great insight into the baseline ecology for the species. Ray explains further, “But we don’t know what’s going on in the central population – for example, the Waterberg. The different feeding ecology, the different prey, termites and ants available – it’s all very new to us.” “And important in terms of finding genetic differences between sub-populations where they are isolated in islands of habitat.” The pangolin is seriously threatened by illegal poaching and trade, electric fencing on game farms, poisons and gin traps. Through the African Pangolin Working Group’s joint expertise, there will now be an opportunity to better understand this enigmatic little animal as a species -- and to help minimize the threats that it currently faces. “We know little about their ecology, their distribution, population status in Southern Africa and in Africa in general, and we developed this Working Group to determine if there is a problem and a plight for the species.” In the months to come, it is hoped that through new research, more will be revealed about the status of these incredible little mammals and how they can be helped. Anyone can participate and contribute information about these amazing animals. If you have seen a pangolin, no matter how recent or long ago, please log onto the African Pangolin Working Group website at www.pangolin.org to share the sighting information. The site will give more details about this group, their activities and how your contribution can help pangolins in Africa.         Waterberg Conservationist of the Year Award We have initiated a Waterberg Conservationist of the Year award and ask that you nominate candidates (whether WNC members or not) for what we hope will become a prestigious and sought-after accolade. The successful candidate will be an influential advocate for conservation and an important example for others to follow. Nominees should demonstrate unusual concern for the environment through their operations, policies and actions. Other criteria include the following: The candidate is a permanent resident of the Waterberg; The candidate has incorporated effective conservation principles into his / her normal land management; The candidate is supportive of formal conservation programmes, even though he or she might not be a high-profile active participant; The candidate displays a high level of responsibility for both the natural and social environment in which we live.       African Wild Dogs in the Waterberg and South Africa by Conway Volek While there is a lot of publicity in the press, other media and public or private communications about the plight of a certain few animals, very little is ever mentioned about Lycaon pictus or the African Wild Dog. Wild dogs are a highly social carnivore with packs averaging 13 adults with a trend towards male bias in sex ratio. The pack is normally led by a dominant breeding pair, sub-ordinate non-breeding adults and subordinate offspring of the alpha pair. The wild dog coat patterns are individually unique and highly variable combining black, white and varying shades of brown. Wild dogs were once distributed throughout much of the sub-Saharan Africa but reviews in 1997 suggest they have been extirpated from 25 of their former 39 range states. Viable populations exist in countries in southern and eastern Africa with the largest occurring in northern Botswana, western Zimbabwe, eastern Namibia and north-eastern South Africa. Currently the only population considered viable in South Africa is in Kruger National Park. The remaining populations in South Africa, which primarily occur within fenced reserves, are spatially isolated from each other as a result of land use changes and the consequent habitat fragmentation in their former range. These populations are collectively managed as a metapopulation within which intermittent emigration or immigration is simulated through actively translocating individuals, single-sex groups or packs, to conserve genetic diversity (Lindsey & Mills 2004). Current reserves in the metapopulation network are Madikwe, Pilanesberg and Khamab in the North West province, Tswalu in the Northern Cape Province, and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Mkhuze, Thanda, Hlambanyathi and Tembe in KwaZulu-Natal province. Populations of wild dogs do also occur outside of formally protected areas in South Africa although these appear to be limited to the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. The wild dog population is estimated at less than 450 in South Africa and is declining due the pressures brought on by its declining habitat. The Kruger National Park and the Waterberg Region in Limpopo are the only areas within South Africa where there are unmanaged wild dog populations. The Waterberg Region has the largest remaining free roaming pack. With this comes major consequences when the dogs move onto various privately own farms they traverse. The wild dog is classified as Endangered by the IUCN and is governed by the Management Diversity Act and Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations who also classify them as endangered. They are opportunistic carnivores using a cooperative hunting strategy to chase down prey. The fact that they don’t stay in a particular area very long, due to their huge ranges, means that they would only kill one or two animals to feed on before moving off. The notion that the dogs would come into an area and decimate the animals there is simply not true; in fact, the dogs move away naturally. That said, when they den, they are in an area for a longer period, causing bigger damage to whatever food source is in that area, and in turn endure the wrath of that land owner. The conservation challenge with wild dogs lies with its declining populations across the continent as a result of increasingly fragmented habitat, expanding human population and the persecution of it both within and outside of protected areas. Increased habitat fragmentation can increase a population’s susceptibility to stochastic, catastrophic events and can lead to an increasing number of encounters with domestic dogs infected with diseases such as rabies, or may result in a reduction of genetic diversity through inbreeding (Fuller et al. 1992b; Kat et al. 1995; Woodroffe et al. 1997). Wild dogs occur at lower densities than competing carnivores such as lions and spotted hyaenas, and are susceptible to edge effects such as vehicle collisions, snaring and diseases because of their wide ranging behavior (Lindsey et al. 2004b; Woodroffe & Ginsberg 1999a). The highest priority for wild dog conservation is considered to be the maintenance of contiguous, suitable landscapes and the mitigation of lethal edge effects (Fuller et al. 1992b; Kat et al. 1995; Woodroffe et al. 1997; Mills et al. 1998; Woodroffe & Ginsberg 1999a; Rasmussen 1999; Creel & Creel 2002; Davies & Du Toit 2004; Woodroffe et al. 2004). There is an ongoing effort to gain more information on the wild dogs in the Waterberg and also to seek ways in which to help stem the decline in our population. A few ideas about how to help with information gathering and protection of the dogs are being discussed. Deon Cilliers of EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust) is the main emergency contact for local land owners if dogs are sighted. Both Marakele National Park and Lapalala Wilderness have committed to accepting dogs that are captured for relocation. Population size and distribution outside of protected areas are difficult to estimate accurately because the dogs have huge home ranges (up to 1110 km2 in Kruger). The EWT has launched a photographic project in the Waterberg to collect the data necessary for improved estimates. They will compile a database of photos entered in the competition. See: www.ewt.org.za/photocontest.aspx. Without a concerted effort from all of us we could see the end of another one of our beautiful, and less talked about, mammals. More information is available from the following sources: Wild Dog Advisory Group South Africa, www.wagsa.org.za Endangered Wildlife Trust, www.ewt.org.za Michelle Thorn (EWT Waterberg Predator Research), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Emergency Contact: Deon Cilliers, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 082 853 1068       Air Quality: The Waterberg is a National Priority Area Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has, under the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, declared the Waterberg area as a national priority area. According to the department, a priority area in terms of the Air Quality Act is an area in which ambient air quality standards are being exceeded, or may be exceeded or any other situation which causes, or may cause a significant negative impact on air quality in the area. This may be the result of emissions from specific sources that may expose individuals to elevated risks of adverse health effects and contribute to the cumulative health risks of emissions from other sources in the area "The area therefore requires specific air quality management actions to rectify or avoid the deterioration of the air quality, thus ensuring that the Constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to health and wellbeing is upheld," the department said. The areas covered include the Bojanala District in North West and the Waterberg District in Limpopo that is part to several local municipalities such as Thabazimbi, Modimolle, Mogalakwena, Bela-Bela, Mookgophong and Lephalale in Limpopo, and Moses Kotane, Rustenburg and Madibeng in the North West province. The department said in addition to covering rapidly developing areas in two provinces, the Waterberg priority area was also a proactive approach to potential trans-boundary air quality impact that may arise between South Africa and Botswana. "This proactive approach is therefore in support of future sustainable development in the area, provides regulatory certainty, and ensures that air quality levels remain within the national ambient air quality standards," it said. - BuaNews       Where on Earth is Magnetic North? by Richard Wadley In this age of car-borne GPS systems, with their invariable pseudo-Japanese-American female direction advisors – the ultimate dumbing down of map reading – it’s increasingly difficult to find anyone who can actually read a real map. This sad fact was brought home to us late the other afternoon as we reached the T-junction of the Bakkers Pass road with the old tar road to Lephalale via Bulgerivier. We were flagged down by an occupant of a very small car, while his companion, the driver, sat panic-stricken and hunched over the dashboard, desperately punching instructions into the GPS mounted on the windscreen. “Which is the quickest way to Bela-Bela?” the man asked, looking hopefully at the strip of dusty corrugated track we had just negotiated in our bakkie. “Well”, I replied, casting an eye at the bright blue midget parked in the shadow of one of my wheels, “this road could eventually take you to Bela Bela, but it certainly isn’t the quickest way – and it won’t be simple either, especially in ..er... that”. This news was communicated to the perspiring GPS operator-cum-driver, who, judging from his wild gesticulations (he was French) and stabbing motions towards the instrument on the windscreen, evidently still believed otherwise. “And”, I added, as a final deterrent, “the road hasn’t been maintained for years, it’s full of dongas and is frequented by crazy young game rangers who drive their employers’ 4x4s at reckless speeds along it, forcing other users into the bush”. (The bit about the dongas isn’t true). That image sank in, and even though the car was a hired model (it had the little give-away red sticker on the top left corner of the windscreen), I could see they were having second thoughts. “What should we do then?” cried the passenger – and it was evident that this was not the first time on this trip they’d been led astray by that digital siren. “We must be there this evening!” “I’m afraid you really would do best to go back through Vaalwater and on to Modimolle, even through the awful roadworks”, I replied sympathetically. “Turn right at the first robots in Modimolle and you’re almost there”. The fellow clearly agreed – and had obviously already suggested this option to his techno-captive friend, because he repeated my advice with just a hint of – you know – ‘I told you so’ smugness. The driver shrugged resignedly, said something rather unpleasant to the GPS lady (French is such an expressive language) and fired up his Korean steed. The passenger leapt in and, spitting grit onto my bumper, they screamed off. In the direction of Bulgerivier. Truly. I wonder where in Botswana they eventually ran out of gas... Back in the real world, anyone who has had to try and find a position using a topographic map and a compass will know that this is not quite as straightforward as it might at first appear. The reason is that our maps are (nearly always) orientated so that the top of the map points towards the North Pole, also known as True North (TN); whereas the compass needle, on the other hand, points towards the Magnetic North Pole (MNP), which, it turns out, is somewhere else entirely. (The MNP is that imaginary point where the axis of the Earth’s magnetic field points vertically into the Earth’s surface.) Worse, the MNP does not remain in one position, but is migrating around, depending on whimsical changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. The result is that if one wants to convert a magnetic compass bearing relative to MNP to a direction on a map, it is necessary to know how to adjust that magnetic bearing to one that refers to TN. The difference between the two is called the magnetic declination; and, this number varies both through time and according to where you happen to be on the Earth’s surface. According to Wikipedia, studies have shown that the MNP has been wandering in a generally north-westerly direction for most of the last century, during which time it has moved over 1100 km; and currently, it’s moving at a faster pace, over 40 km per year. This means that anyone needing to convert a magnetic compass bearing to an accurate bearing on a map needs to know the current magnetic declination at the location concerned. Well, help is at hand: that marvellous institution funded by the American taxpayer, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA (a neat acronym don’t you think?) has a very user-friendly website on which you can punch in your own latitude and longitude and get – instantly – the current magnetic declination for your site. Just like that. For free. No sultry voice trying to lure you down a lonely track. Just the faint refrain of “Star Spangled Banner”. In late June 2012, for example, the magnetic declination for Vaalwater (latitude 240 17’ 30” South; longitude 280 07’ 00” East) was: -150 28’ 02”, increasing at about 1’ per annum. The minus sign means that the MNP is to the west of TN; so you would need to add 150 27’ 55” to your compass bearing in order to get the direction on a map. You could use the same figure for anywhere in the Waterberg and not be more than a couple of minutes out - for now. In case you’re interested, the website is www.ngdc.noaa.gov . Click on “Geomagnetic Calculators” and you’ll be taken to a screen inviting you to enter your latitude and longitude co-ordinates. Where to get those? From your GPS of course!       Biking the Blues Away by Richard Wadley Mountain biking (MTB) has to be one of the most enjoyable ways of getting close to the magnificent environment in which we are privileged to live. A chilly morning in early June saw over two hundred enthusiasts gathering near the beautiful homestead of Peggy and Sam van Coller, some 45km north of Vaalwater, for the inaugural Waterberg Academy / Lindani MTB race. Photographs provided by Simone Baber Two course options, of 20km and 52km, designed by Alan van Coller and laid out with meticulous care across Lindani’s pristine plains and rolling hills, had already attracted accolades from the professional cycling fraternity for their thoughtful combination of speed sections with those requiring technical competence (and an element of good luck!). The courses, on farm roads and single-track, were well-cleared and marked, but in such a way as to minimise their intrusion on the wilderness that the van Coller family has worked hard to achieve on the property over the last fifteen years. In addition to the two main events, there was a 4km walk as well as a 2km cycle race for youngsters. Participants came from as far away as Gauteng and neighbouring lodges were filled for the weekend. On race day, the organisation was superb; the marshalling and signage was good (although inevitably, a few riders – including the writer – missed some turns); and the finish area was remarkably well equipped with refreshments, medical tent, public address system, adult and childrens’ entertainment, hot showers and toilets. The atmosphere was festive and many were the compliments paid to the race organisers, with the hope expressed that this would become an annual event. Race results were posted on-line within a day. First home in the 52km event was Timothy Hammond in 2h.22.20, with Genevieve van Coller (2h.51.46) the first female finisher. In the 20km race, the winner was Jonathan Jacobs in 1h.16.48, with Janine Meares (1h.32.56) the first female. Proceeds from the race went to the Waterberg Academy; and members of the PTA, together with Lindani staff, were out in force to fulfil the numerous roles required to make this such a successful event. Several Vaalwater and Lephalale businesses and local lodges, apart from Lindani itself, sponsored the event. As an enthusiastic, if ill-prepared participant on the day, I’d like to thank everyone involved, especially Simone Baber and her team, for providing us all with so much enjoyment; and for the opportunity to share the beautiful Lindani landscape on a crisp, clear Waterberg day. Diarise June 2013 now! Editor’s Note: Our modest correspondent neglected to mention that he came in first in his group of Veterans in the 20km race.       Photos, Photos, Photos We need your photos for the Conservancy Newsletter. Good photos, interesting views, unique pictures – please share!       Stories, Stories, Stories We need your stories, articles, essays, announcements for the Conservancy Newsletter. Good stories, interesting articles, relevant essays, timely announcements – please share!       Farm for Sale 951 hectares, 30 minutes from Vaalwater, suitable for tourism, game ranching or farming, private home and nature reserve, equestrian uses. Secluded, stunning mountain and valley views. Main residence with 3 chalets, pond and pool. Second residence. Full equestrian facilities. Streams, fresh spring water, borehole, dams. Land cleared of invasive and exotic vegetation. Many kudu, reedbuck, and other game. For further information, leave message at 014 721 0063.