MARLOTH PARK – The residents of Marloth Park have become like a herd of angry elephant and are ready to go on the rampage. This was after trucks arrived at the park on Tuesday.
The residents’ Facebook page erupted like a late-afternoon thunderstorm as property owners vented their anger and frustration when it emerged that the Nkomazi Local Municipality (NLM) was planning to erect bomas and and execute a passive game removal capture.
Within three hours over 200 Facebook comments had been made on various posts concerning the issue.
At an emergency meeting on Wednesday morning, Ms Lorinda Steenkamp and Ms Pat Wilmans, who held a proxy to represent the Marloth property owners, and Mr Louw Steyn, Mr Jan Muller and Mr Johan Eksteen of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Association (MTPA), it was confirmed that the game captures would take place as soon as the necessary permits had been approved.
This could be as soon as today.
The game removal operation was not communicated in any way to the Marloth Park Property Owners Association (MPPOA). Last Monday the association, the MLM, the Marloth Park Conservancy and the MTPA, had a long-overdue meeting to iron out issues that have been frustrating the property owners for some time.
At this meeting Steyn of the MTPA gave the assurance that no permits had been issued for culling or for game removal. It was mentioned that in future the MTPA and MLM could remove animals through passive capture techniques using bomas, but no further details or time line were given.
Also at this meeting Mr Dan Ngwenya, municipal manager, gave his assurance that there would in future be better communication between MLM and the three other interest groups.
Two hundred impala and 40 warthog are listed to be translocated.
However, none of the other species which the residents discovered are to be removed from Marloth, exceed the stocking figures allocated by the MTPA for 2012/13. According to Ms Pat Wilmans, who posted on Facebook on behalf of the MPPOA, 20 giraffe, 20 kudu, 12 wildebeest and 12 zebra are listed to be captured and moved to other locations. She estimates their total value at about R740 000.
Furious and frustrated property owners vented their anger on the Marloth Park Facebook page. Some threatened public disorder, other called for calm and more advised legal action. “Can we not arrive en masse and toyi-toyi or something?” asked Ms Janet Hornsey. Mr Arthur Maker asked, “What about a court order to stop these people?” “Outrageous! Marlothians – what are you doing about this?” asked Ms Margo Riley.
According to Steenkamp Wednesday’s meeting was constructive and positive. Clarity was given regarding the game capture.
She said that MTPA ecologist, Eksteen, had done the necessary assesments and the removals were necessary as all the mentioned species were overpopulated. The figures mentioned above will be modified, with an increase in the number of impala that will be captured and moved.
“Passive game capture, which involves constructing bomas, stocking them with feed and them capturing the animals that enter the bomas, will commence as soon as the permits ave been approved.
“The captured animals might be relocated to adjacent game farms, but this still needs to be cleared with the municipality. This is probably the biggest hiccup,” said Steenkamp. The Marloth residents are concerned that the animals might be moved to farms where hunting is carried out.
The captures must be done before the end of October when the window for transporting live game ends.
Professional hunter Mr Jasper Aichenson will manage the operation.
Ngwenya was emailed questions concerning the issue. He stated that he was in the field for a week and was unable to answer the questions. Neither was there anyone else at the municipality who could do so. He did say that no permits had yet been issued for game capture and that a meeting would be held on November 4 to discuss the issue.
Spokesman for the municipality, Mr Cyril Ripinga, who was also emailed questions but was “also in the field” and unable to answer them, said he had heard about the trucks arriving in Marloth Park. “The trucks have nothing to do with Nkomazi Municipality, I don’t know where they are from or who sent them,” he said.
He said the status quo of the meeting of last Monday remains and no culling or game capture will be done until the necessary permission and permits were finalised with the MTPA.
Questions were sent to the MTPA but at the time of going to press no answerws had been received.
The question which is still making Marloth residents irrate – where will the animals be relocated to? – remains unanswered.