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Friday, 4 December 2015

“SPAR good for You" (us), Christmas hampers H.I.P 2015

“SPAR good for You" (us).

 What a treat the HIP Field Staff and APU of Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park got on the weekend of the 28 Nov 2015. The Hilltop Hluhluwe Honorary Officers Christmas hamper project was a great success this year again thanks to SPAR for sponsoring great hampers filled with staple foods and luxury items and the support from Imfolozi Honorary Officers. The hampers were distributed to both the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Field Staff and APU Rangers, our front line defences to say a thank you for their dedication and hard work that is often unseen.
The hampers were well received with smiles all around. We would like to say thank you to SPAR for the great hamper and their time and effort that was put into making this project a great success. Wow what a hamper it was SPAR really out did themselves this year.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

KZNsightings is run & manned by Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers

Share what you have spotted in the Hluhluwe- Imfolozi , Mkuze , Ithala and Isimangaliso wetland Park  live!
Improve your game reserve experiences and join one of the social network sites  below.
 The  isimangaliso and Ithala network is new and may take some time to get full participation – so expect it to be slow at first especially on weekdays The Hluhluwe Imfolozi network has been running for over a year now , so has some good participation and some great sightings.
·           Cell phone connectivity at the parks is poor in places, it may take time for   updates to come through. The administrator will  transfer feeds as often as possible

·           Please only use Whatsapp  for reporting, use twitter for discussions, photos etc. Groups are limited to 100 people by Whatsapp thus, When not in the park, please leave the Whatsapp groups to avoid the nuisance factor and keep admin down.  Join twitter or like us on Face book and follow and create a list allowing you to follow up whenever you want to see what has been reported. 

·           Photos will not be distributed across groups but will be placed on Twitter and face book so when at home the best option is one of these sites.

How it works  

·           he network maybe be slow on weekdays, but keep on reporting as you are assisting with the HO Tracking Process.

·           Cell phone connectivity at the Imfolozi –Hluhluwe is poor in places, it may take time for face book and Whatsapp updates to come through. The administrator will  transfer feeds as often as possible

·           Use Whatsapp for reporting, use twitter and facebook for discussions, photos etc. Groups are limited to 100 people by Whatsapp thus, when not in the park, please leave the Whatsapp and BBM groups to avoid the nuisance factor and keep admin down.

·            Join twitter or like us on Face book and follow and create a list allowing you to follow up whenever you want to see what has been reported. 

·           Photos will not be distributed across groups to reduce data demands but will be placed on Twitter and face book so when at home the best option is one of these sites.

·           Citizen Scientists Support the HIP scientific Services: Remember to send your photos of lions preferably with brands or Collars, Wild Dogs, Cheetahs, Leopards (preferably side profile), Black Rhino (preferably with ears erect), and Vultures with wing Tags. 

·           Please try and report your sightings in the following manner:

Most of all have fun and see as much as you can

Download flyer here

more info see www.kznsightings.co.za







Wednesday, 2 September 2015

International Vulture Awareness Day - 5 September 2014

This post has been going around and I found it to be quite true as well as it seems to just remind us about what we have already.

Beautiful new bird species causes flutter in birding community
Johannesburg, 29 August 2015 – This past week a striking new bird species was discovered near Mapungubwe, South Africa. It is believed that this bird has been overlooked by ornithologists because it has a very small population, occurs in remote parts of the country, and is perhaps secretive in its habits. It is an impressive-looking bird, and the fact that it has until now evaded detection has surprised the experts. Researchers believe this bird fills an important ecological niche.

The striking species was spotted and photographed on a five-day ornithological expedition to the Mapungubwe region in the Limpopo Province. The bird was reportedly first sighted in 2013 in the Tuli Block, Botswana, and until now subsequent surveys have not recorded any sightings of the species. It has subsequently been named the ‘Tuluver’, and its scientific name will be revealed in an article in a prestigious ornithological journal.
The eye-catching bird has been described by the birding community as ‘beautiful’, owing to its striking size, brightly-coloured plumage, and a crown of feathers protruding from its head
Based on initial findings, it appears that the Tuluver is an important ecological lynchpin. “From the shape of its beak, we can determine that this is a scavenging species and that it feeds on disease-carrying carrion in the arid parts of southern Africa,” says Mark D. Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa. “If these Tuluvers were not feeding on these carcasses, it could otherwise lead to the spread of diseases such as anthrax, botulism and rabies, at significant human and economic cost,” explains Anderson.
Unfortunately, although its existence has only just been confirmed, the Tuluver is already being listed as an endangered species owing to preliminary estimates of its population size. This could be attributed to long breeding cycles with only one egg per clutch.
BirdLife South Africa is currently conducting further investigations to understand more about this rare and enchanting species and how to conserve it.
All is revealed here:

Monday, 31 August 2015

Fun and games at Isimangaliso MTB cycle challenge – August 2015

Is a unique 4-day-stage, 260 km event allows Mountain Bikers access to areas within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, far off the normal tourist routes, allowing riders to experience the values this park has to offer. 

Hilltop honorary officers offered our services to this great event with some of us working Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was a great experience, even though the days were long and the opportunity to see game was limited. However I’m sure most of us were quite relieved that the game decided to limit themselves on the routes that we were manning. 

The weekend wasn’t a total loss of game and we picked up some great sights to and from our manning points and our Saturday afternoon quick turn to the hide paid off.

The weekend added some great impromptu team building exercises both big and small. Such as testing our night tent pitching skills and one of our team’s member’s dedication to their job. Well done Bill and Brigid for the dedication you showed even after you’re off road breakdown, being towed to your point and finishing off your duty, most would have given up.

Monday, 27 July 2015

31st July 2015 is World Game Ranger Day

It is on this day we recognise our Game Rangers/Scouts for their contribution celebrating the work rangers do to protect the world’s natural and cultural treasures, and to remember those who died in service.

In recognition of the hard work done by the HIP scouts, the Hluhluwe Hilltop Honorary Officers would like to assist to build small gym’s in each scout camp starting in the Hluhluwe Reserve where the request originated from the Section Ranger.

The section Rangers are looking for donations of Gym equipment to build small gyms in the remote scout camps where the teams can use the time between patrols to do exercises and build up their physical strength to assist them in conducting their physical tasks.
The main aim is to provide weight training access as their patrols during the day keep their aerobic fitness up, weights will improve leg strength for hills; chasing poachers etc. and a stronger upper body will help in long extended patrols where they carry heavy backpacks  up to around 40kg.

Below is a breakdown of the equipment we are looking for per camp

Per camp

1 x bar bell (long for bench press and free squats)

Weights for above – 2 x 20kg, 2 x 15kg, 2 x 10kg

Dumb bells – 2 x 5kg and 2 x 10kg 2 x 20kg

Reclining press bench (adjustable)

For one or two camps

1 x exercise bike

1 x Elliptical stepper (with hand action)

If you have equipment that is in good condition and you are not using it please  contact

Sharon van Vollenhoven  on 0827279442”, to arrange pick up. Or email Ho's on admin@hilltophonoraryofficers.org.za

Equipment can also be left in the designated area in the Nyalazi and Memorial gates

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Park Ethics:

Firstly always stick to the parks rules and Always put the animals first
* Respect all animals, and stay a safe and respectable distance from them.
   * Don't get out of cars or hang out of windows for extra at sightings. (Remember animals are wild and don't know that they should harm you)
   * Don't litter or through your stompies out of your car.
* If there are lots of cars at the sights, wait your turn rather than crowding the animal
* Don't feed the animals , Keep the peace
* keep as quite as possible (no music, no shouting,no mobile phone conversations, talk in a whisper) especially when approaching a sighting or sitting at a sighting.
* Don't call out to the animal or try make animal sounds or bang the side of your car
* Once in position switch off your engine and Have respect for each other
* Wait for your turn - the first vehicle’s at a sighting have priority, so don't drive in front of them or block their view. ( most drivers will signal for you to come forward)
* If there is a queue of cars waiting, don't take to long at a sighting - try give everyone a chances.
* General Patience needs to be demonstrated when sharing the road with other visitors and wildlife. 
* Speed needs to be reduced to the advised limits
                            - remember this is a game drive slow down and
                                                          enjoy the view!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Cycads Encephalartos cycadales

Cycads across the globe face several threats, including trade in wild collected plants, habitat destruction, traditional use, threats of alien vegetation and unviable populations. In South Africa the biggest threat facing cycads is the poaching of plants from wild populations to supply both the domestic and international cycad trade. There is an urgent need for authorities in South Africa to focus attention on cycads, to prevent further extinctions and allow for the recovery of over exploited wild cycad populations. Poor implementation of past and current legislation with limited/weak law enforcement, unsuccessful prosecutions and ineffective sentences is the major factor that has resulted in the cycad extinction crisis.

At present, of the Encephalartos species in South Africa, three are already extinct in the wild (EW) and 66% are classified in one of the threatened categories, 12 are Critically Endangered, 4 Endangered and 9 Vulnerable. Of the 67 known species of Encephalartos cycads endemic to the African continent, South Africa is home to 38 of them 29 of which are endemic to the country, making South Africa an important hotspot for cycad diversity.

Cycads are often referred to as "living fossils" and have changed little since the Carboniferous period 50-60 million years ago. Cycads are often confused with both palms and tree ferns because of a superficial resemblance , however they are actually totally unrelated("http://www.sospecies.org/sos_projects/plants/cycads/south_african_cycads/)

Click here to find out more about Cycads and to download a poster