This morning Bill Nortier, Gerrie Griffioen and I met at the Mohlabetsi in order to identify a site for the new crossing. We have selected a site, but which still remains a big task. In the mean time it was decided that we would temporarily pack the existing crossing with rocks to provide access to the east of the Mohlabetsi and until such time as the new crossing has been completed.
Gerrie’s articulated loader is due to arrive tomorrow morning some time. We will accommodate the driver in the staff village over the next few weeks/month.
In order for the loader to reach the Mohlabetsi, we will first have to repair the breach in Henshaw’s dam. I therefore propose the following:
That we use material from Demoina dam wall to do the repair to Henshaw’s. (In my opinion repairing Demoina would be a waste of both time and money. It has never held water well and probably never will. Instead we could possibly build a weir across the drainage line which would effectively hold the same amount of water as the “dam” normally does and turn it into a bird hide.) The awkward part will be to transport the material from Demoina to Henshaw’s. Most of the resources in the area are currently occupied elsewhere i.e. tipper trucks. James Campbell however, has offered us the use of his tractor and tipper trailer (3 ton), which he himself will drive (he arrives on Thursday). The loader can begin breaking up the “old” wall immediately and begin piling it up for loading. James will be available to start transporting the material on Friday. I will drive the Front-end-loader, which we will use to shape and compact the material at Henshaw’s once it has been off-loaded there. The final compaction can be done by the CAT loader (14 tons). Not sure what James will want in exchange. He has hinted at getting some of the material from Demoina, but which I think we should resist. We will need all of it to do our own repairs around the farm.
The Jejane staff members will break from replacing the fence below Joubert’s house tomorrow to begin planting straining posts in concrete between Jejane/Inkonkoni and Boston, (as Boston has made no effort to repair it from their side and the risk of game wondering across that boundary is far greater than at Joubert’s crossing). Due to us being unable to drive to this location, the materials (tools, cement, poles, etc.) will all have to be carried in on foot. Danger tape will then be strung up between these points in order to try and discourage movement across the opening, until we can return next week to begin constructing the new fence. A suggestion that Gerrie made, and which I quite like, is to use shade cloth in place of either conveyor belt or a sacrificial fence across the Mohlabetsi River, between ourselves and Boston. It is more cost effective than fencing, should lift during high water levels and is cheap to replace should it be washed away. It would have an overlap which would be weighted/penned down and the whole structure will be electrified as was the previous curtain.
Once the poles have been set in concrete, the staff members will join us in packing rock at the existing Nyala crossing. Thursday and Friday will see them back on the fence at Joubert’s crossing.
I had a good opportunity to visit and inspect Steve’s pan today. The flood waters flowed so heavily that they breached the back of the pan, filling it and then rushing over the front banks causing erosion. Fortunately the clay content held and the pan wasn’t breached entirely. It will however be necessary to reinforce the eroded banks.
I spent a large part of today trying to access all of the roads around the farm (at least those that we haven’t managed to reach yet). I have continued to close roads that are inaccessible and once completed will forward a map onto the Board, indicating which roads are accessible and which are not, which can then be forwarded onto the shareholders. Unfortunately there is just not enough time in the day and due to our hectic schedule over the next short period, I may only be able to complete this by early next week.
The elephant have moved across the reserve and were found at Snare dam late this afternoon. The hippo is still occupying Snare dam, but frequently grazers towards Warthog dam and on occasion has spent the day there. Snare hide is only a few inches above the water, and it is quite intimidating once he realises that you are in the hide and comes rushing at you through the water.
Please come back to me with your feelings on Demoina/Henshaw’s.