Tag Archives: Kwazulu Natal

Red-Billed Oxpeckers from Kruger National Park to KwaZulu-Natal

Objective of the flight:

The objective of the flight was to relocate Red-billed Oxpeckers from Skukuza in the Kruger National Park to a game farm in High Flats in KwaZulu-Natal. The Operation Oxpecker project was requested to catch Red-billed Oxpeckers at the Skukuza bomas, as they were irritating the wounds of some of the animals housed there.

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Wild Dogs from Thanda to Tswalu

Objective of the flight:

The objective of the flight was to relocate a pack of 12 African Wild Dogs from Thanda Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal to Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in the Northern Cape Province. This contributed to the collaborative managed metapopulation initiative coordinated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

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Identification of Invasive Alien Plants

Objective of the flight

The primary objective is to assess biomass availability to support identified eco-furniture factories in nine separate regions in South Africa. This particular mission was flown in and around Hillcrest in KwaZulu-Natal.

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iMfolozi Surveillance Mission

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Mission: iMfolozi Surveillance Mission
Date: 28 November 2008
Requesting organisation: iMfolozi Game Reserve
Location: iMfolozi Game Reserve, Kwazulu Natal
Pilot: Jose Lima (flying a Robbie 44 helicopter) and Paul Dutton (in his Piper Super Cub, Spirit of the Wilderness)

The Bateleurs responded to a call for assistance to fly the perimeter fence of the iMfolozi Game Reserve, to check out any poaching incursions whilst most, if not all, of its patrol staff were absent from their various out-posts attending a year-end function at the Mpilo camp.  Bateleurs members Jose Lima (flying a Robbie 44 helicopter) and Paul Dutton (in his Piper Super Cub, Spirit of the Wilderness) flew the mission.  While this was one of many Bateleurs flights for Paul, it was the inaugural Bateleurs flight for Jose.
“Having the helicopter with its ability to hover and land in tight places added great efficiency to the patrol as evidenced by Jose locating a stationary vehicle and people inside the reserve, immediately next to the game fence, in an area in which White Rhino are often encountered.  Jose noted what looked like a blood-stained tarpaulin enclosing the back of a truck, and the scene had all the appearance of a poaching incident.  We both returned to the airstrip from where Jose picked up ranger Sanmarie and three armed staff and flew back to investigate the vehicle.  It turned out that the truck and its occupants were temporary workers clearing the invasive alien Chromalinaena plant while the “blood” was in fact the result of red herbicide spillage!  Although we did not locate any poachers entering the Park on the day, it did indicate that having unattended casual staff free to move around the reserve evinced a serious lapse in the reserve’s security system.  

Our flights made us realise how small and vulnerable iMfolozi is, with only a token security fence to protect a treasure far more valuable than all the bullion in the USA’s Fort Knox!  Understandably,  KZN conservation, and the iMfolozi and Hlhluwe Reserves in particular, does not have sufficient financial resources to beef up its security system to staunch the poaching of the two species of Rhino.  Perhaps Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife could emulate the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, to which American multimillionaire Greg Carr has committed USD 30 million for rehabilitation.  It may well be possible for Ezemvelo to exploit the precarious situation of its Rhino to attract the support of an American philanthropist who may be looking for ways to spend accumulated wealth.  Human health gets its fair share of this source of wealth – why not the natural world too?

Ranger Sanmarie’s handling of the mission’s logistics, and her rapid response with her armed team to our report of a possible poaching incident was exemplary.”

Midmar Dam and Housing Development

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Mission: 50/50 Story on Low Cost Housing Development at Midmar Dam
Date: 8 July 2008
Requesting organisation: Nguni Productions for 50/50
Location: Midmar Dam, Kwazulu Natal
Pilot: Barry de Groot

Report by Barry de Groot
Report by Ryan Logie

In early July we were approached by an independent television company working with 50/50 on a story concerning a low cost housing development at Midmar Dam in KwaZulu-Natal.  Barry de Groot volunteered to do this flight and here is his account of the mission, followed by a short report from Ryan Logie, the cameraman on the flight.

Report by Barry de Groot

“Today saw another successful Bateleurs mission flown. Ryan Logie, the cameraman, was my only passenger and he took almost 1.5 hours of video footage. He filmed the proposed area where they want to build the low cost housing development 250 metres from the edge of Midmar Dam. We then filmed the existing township which is about 4 km down the road. We did a close up of the sewerage works which is not in working order and is apparently allowing raw sewerage to flow into small streams and end up in the dam. These particular areas were covered in more detail when they visited the site on foot last week, but the aerial footage will give a much better overview of the extent of the problem.

We then flew over to the Howick Falls.  This waterfall rates as one of my most scenic areas and a place I always fly my visitors over for a bird’s eye view of this famous waterfall. Unfortunately there is a large informal settlement only metres away from the top of the falls, and this area we filmed quite extensively too. According to Ryan it is the people living in these shacks that the authorities wish to relocate to the proposed site alongside Midmar Dam. From there we flew over the Albert Falls dam,  I guess to show the contrast between the two dams, and then we returned to Pietermaritzburg.

All this was filmed on a superb winter’s day in KwaZulu-Natal.  The sun was shining bright with a very light breeze blowing. How blessed am I to have the privilege of flight.”


midmar2_08072008Report from Cameraman Ryan Logie

“In July this year, 50/50 on SABC 2 flew with Bateleur pilot, Barry de Groot, to capture aerial footage for their insert, Hollywood on the Edge.

The story looked at the environmental implications of a proposed low cost housing development in Howick. The development would be constructed just metres away from Midmar Dam, the waterbasket for KwaZulu-Natal.

In the face of outcry from local communities and even concern from authorities such as the Provincial Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, construction was set to begin – regardless of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping reports stating that the project would not be environmentally viable and could possibly pose a threat to the water quality of a source that serves an estimated 4 million people.

Being a television programme, the producers tell their stories using imagery and often need to get a bird’s eye view of situation to visualise the problem for viewers.

Thanks to The Bateleurs the producers were able to show effectively the close proximity of the proposed development to Midmar Dam – a mere 500 meters from the banks. One of the major concerns was the that the houses would border a set of smaller dams that feed into Midmar.  With Barry’s excellent flying we were able to fly lower and capture visuals of this area. In addition we were also able to get shots of a local settlement (similar to the proposed development) also very close to Midmar Dam. Prior to our flight the producers were able to establish that there were sewage related problems in the area, but we did not realise the impact until we were up in the sky.

We’d like to thank The Bateleurs and Barry de Groot for assisting us and helping us to tell the story better.”