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Game rangers ... moved from Waterhole discussion 7/4/2007

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Game rangers ... moved from Waterhole discussion 7/4/2007

Good morning everyone - I believe the weather is going to be glorius as from today so expect a lot of activity around the waterhole!

I have been asked to explain the banning of off-road driving in certain reserves so here goes -

The private game reserves work very differently to Kruger - they have in the private reserves a grid system of roads (all dirt) with areas in between that are called blocks! It is the tracker and ranger who through their expertise follow the spoor on a road and can immediately tell in which direction the animal is walking and whether it has gone into a block. After driving around a block they then make a further deduction that it has not exited so for example if it were an elephant they would then drive off road into that block to look for it. Alternatively the ranger may take his rifle and together with his tracker they will go on foot following spoor to see where an animal has gone. My son did this one day and suddenly noticed blood stains at his feet - simultaneously he heard the growel and looked straight into a lioness's eyes - she had just made a kill. They backed off very slowly and were able to return to the vehicle to tell their guests that they had found a lion on a kill. Then they would drive off- road right through the bush to get the guests a good view of the action.

Once heavy rain falls the ground becomes soft and therefore a decision is made to stop off road driving and all game viewing has to be done from the dirt roads. This is for several reasons - the most important being the damage to the ground which is soft and giving and secondly the danger of becoming bogged down and having to call for help and having a tractor cause even more danger.

Just throws a little more light as there seemed to be such confusion as to what banning of off-road driving meant. All reserves have different criteria as to when this is done and then all rangers informed by radio.

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I second the nomination for this to be posted somewhere permanent, become a sticky, or perhaps create a sticky for particularly informative posts and link to this one. Thanks, Penny, for putting so much time into giving us all that wonderful information!

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Anonymous
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HAPPY EASTER!!! Laughing out loud penny i like reading your replies ,so interesting ..i'm so glad grannycat ask them questions ..I was curious also..have a wonderful day Laughing out loud

Anonymous
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That'd be great Grannycat, I'd love to learn more about the lives of the Rangers. Eye-wink

Anonymous
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Don't know if Penny is still on, but Penny, if you are still here, would you give permission to post your info on the life of a ranger in a permanent place?

I'll ask her tomorrow if she's gone now.

Anonymous
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:shock: Wow! What an informative essay to wake up too. There should be a section here for information like this so we could all read and learn even more about our beloved Africam and it's staff, etc.

Anonymous
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Oh, Penny, that was a lot of trouble to write. Thank you so much! It clears up my questions. I'm sure it is an extremely challenging career, game rangering, but I'll bet that have a lot of pride in what they do. I'll bet the girls hit on them too!! As a mother, I can imagine you worry about your son, but are very proud of him too. Imagine how knowlegdable they must be after a few or more years. Thank you so much for the explanation!!

Anonymous
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Eish Granny Cat - big question so here goes.

The Kruger National Park is run by Sanparks and has no jurisdiction over the private Game reserves. These private game reserves like Sabie Sands, Thornybush mostly lie to the West of the Kruger and are sometimes for ease of reference referred to as the Greater Kruger National Park - but they are completely autonomous. Each Lodge employes its own rangers (they live in a staff compound a slight distance from the Lodge)who may have qualified by means of the National Diploma or by another institution offering similar qualifications. Each ranger is also at liberty to continue improving themselves by sitting further exams run by Field Guides Ass. of SA. Then there are other requirements relating to the Department of Environmental Affairs and the The Hospitality Industry. Each Ranger has to be certified to handle a rifle and be fully trained in the use thereof and they all have to be in possession of up to date first aid certificates. Each private game reserve is run by a board on which sit the Lodge owners (or their representatives) and each reserve has a Big boss ranger who makes the rules for the whole of the reserve. It would be he who decides about a ban on off road driving etc. Then there are sub-sections under him and each Lodge has a head ranger who in turn has a whole lot of rules and regulations that apply - like how many vehicles are allowed at a sighting, certain protocol at sightings, banning all viewing if an animal is becoming traumatised etc. It is also up to these rangers to habituate new animals that they might encounter and make a point of searching them out so that they get used to the vehicles. Some of the reserves are fenced in thus keeping their game within their boundaries - this sadly can be abused by unscrupulous neighbours luring game from under fences! Then there are reserves who have dropped fences completely and thus the game can move freely between Kruger and themselves. Unfortunately vehicles cannot always follow them without trespassing on someone elses property although there are some reserves that allow traversing rights on other properties.

Viewing game in a self drive situation in Kruger is totally different to being on a private game reserve or concession (remember that there are private concession even inside Kruger). In Kruger most of the main roads are tarred and all game viewing is done from the road and there is NO off road access to a sighting even by official staff. Although most of the staff in camps who do drives have a sense of what major herds or prides are around they never know for sure whereas on a private reserve they know exactly where the animals are give or take one or two that elude them. Evertything in the private reserves works off the spoor on the roads whereas in Kruger your spotting is visual unless you happen to be on a dirt road and even then you cannot follow into the bush if the spoor leaves the road.,

Our son is a Game Ranger currently working at Thornybush game reserve which is a fenced reserve on the Western boundary of the Kruger kind of in a line with Satara if you flew like the crow. He is writing exams in June and although he failed his level 3 (third year university level) he will rewrite it. The exams are incredibly hard and it is also not easy to study when you work such a long day.

I hope I have answered some of your questions. Some might say that I am inaccurate in what I have written but it is after all just my personal knowledge! Feel free to fire more questions if you want to.

Yours in Parking
Penny

Anonymous
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Thank you, Penny, for the explanation.

I'm also curious about the rangers. Are they employees of the Kruger Park service, and trained by them? What are the arrangements when they are stationed at a lodge like this. Do they take orders from the lodge or the park service or a mixture of both? Do they live at the lodge?

Anonymous
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Hello Penny: Thank you for the information. Does the area we are watching have this grid system also?

Anonymous
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Wow, Penny, thanks for the additional information on the banning of off-road driving. Fascinating!

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