The 45th AGM

The Sedia Riverside Hotel in Maun, Botswana recently hosted the 45th Annual General Meeting of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA). It was incredibly pleasing to see the effort that so many GRAA members made to be in attendance. An interesting array of speakers at the seminar day discussed transboundary conservation efforts and challenges in the region with almost 50 people in attendance.

Some of the GRAA members in attendance
Some of the GRAA members in attendance
Presentations included the following topics:

 

  1. ‘Rhinos without Borders’ – Dorian Hoy, Great Plains Conservation
  2. ‘Conservation initiatives in Botswana’ – Nic Proust, Wilderness Safaris
  3. ‘Transboundary Conservation – Combating Wildlife Crime ‘- Craig Beech, Peace Parks Foundation
  4. ‘Effective conservation in African savannah ecosystems: The need for functional ecological gradients and a socio-ecological systems approach’ - Dr Richard Fynn, Okavango Research Institute.
  5. ‘An overview of the KAZA TFCA’ – Dr Morris Mtsambiwa, Executive Director of the KAZA TFCA
  6. ‘The importance of transboundary wildlife corridors’ – Chris Brookes, SAREP
  7. ‘Challenges of Effective Conservation in Botswana’ – Dr. JW McNutt – Botswana Predator Conservation Trust
  8. ‘Cross boundary wildlife translocation – challenges and checklists’ – Marius Fuls, Exxaro Resources/GRAA
  9. ‘Ranger Training across boundaries’ - Ruben De Kock, SAWC/GRAA
  10. ‘Climate Change and the role of TFCAs in the future‘– Chris Galliers – WESSA/GRAA

 

All presenters must be thanked for what was a highly informative and productive session.
One thing that was evident is that the survival of Africa's protected areas is reliant on the maintenance of corridors that allow wildlife the ability to access vital and increasingly limited resources across a variety of land uses and boundaries. The integrity of these corridors is under increasing pressure from communities, agriculture and transport infrastructure. Our ecological systems are becoming increasingly fragmented and many protected areas face the risks of isolation that will impact negatively on their ability to function at optimal levels.
The GRAA notes that the same can be said for Africa's rangers. The GRAA has a vital role to play in providing a common identity for African rangers and ensuring that they do not operate in isolation from each other. The GRAA can help build camaraderie amongst Africa's ranger corps. This is crucial to conservation.
In memory of Grant Craig, a GRAA member who passed away in 2014 who was based in Maun, the GRAA presented locally based rhino monitor Poster Malongwa with 3 years sponsored membership as well as a camera to assist him with his monitoring efforts.

Andrew Campbell (GRAA CEO); Poster Malongwa and Chris Galliers (GRAA Chairman)
Andrew Campbell (GRAA CEO); Poster Malongwa and Chris Galliers (GRAA Chairman)
The field trip saw members spend the day in the beautiful Moremi Game Reserve where a wide variety of game was seen. When one sees the splendours of the Okavango Delta one has to salute those involved in ensuring its World Heritage status!
The AGM itself went well. The GRAA’s plans for the year ahead and focus areas where discussed. The day was ended off with the Awards Dinner that was held on the banks of the Thamalakane River. Congratulations to all those that were awarded Honorary Membership and a special mention must go to Maun’s own Ivan Steytler who was in attendance. Ivan has now attended 36 GRAA AGMs! That must be a record!
Other recipients of Honorary Membership were William Willox, David Rushworth, Robert Murray, Mark Astrup, Gordon Bailey, Dr. Jeremy Anderson, Drummond Densham, Erwin Liebnitz, Patrick Donaldson, Gregory Ridgeway, Chris Wex, Gerald Wright, Ken Coetzee, George Zaloumis, John Clark, Paul Phelan and Mdicenci Gumede. Well done to all those who were recognised! We salute you for your continued contribution to conservation. It is fantastic to have role models like this within the GRAA.
Africa's rangers appreciate the support and congratulate the following individuals who all received Bronze Medals:

 

  1. Adv. Coert Jordaan - For his unquestionable loyalty, dedication and selfless commitment to the protection and well-being of the Kruger National Parks Ranger Corps.
  2. Adv. Isabet Erwee - For her tenacity and unwavering commitment in the fight against organized crime and the selfless dedication and support she continuously provides to protected areas and Ranger Corps.
  3. Emmanuel De Merode - For his relentless and unwavering contribution to conservation in Central and Eastern Africa, particularly in Virunga National Park, and for his dedicated support to the Ranger Corps which has frequently manifested in his bravery that goes beyond the call of duty.
  4. Elise Daffue - For an outstanding contribution to help equip and train rangers in their efforts in protected areas throughout South Africa.
  5. Sheila Berry - For the sustained voluntary campaign that she is running to prevent Ubhuto Mining Company from developing an open cast coal mine at Fuleni that will permanently and irreparably impact on the ecological integrity of iMfolozi Game Reserve and its proclaimed sacrosanct wilderness area. Sheila was working tirelessly with our patron, Dr Ian Player on this battle to prevent the mine up to the onset of his final battle.

 

Don English was recognised with a Silver Medal for his extraordinary anti-poaching efforts in the current “Rhino War” and the positive impact of his successes in ultimately contributing to the overall conservation of Kruger National Park’s rhino population. Well done Don, you continue to be an inspiration to us all.
All in all the AGM was a success and the GRAA is now well placed to have a greater impact in Botswana.  There is potential for collaborations with many of the contacts that have been made with local organisations and individuals. The GRAA will host next year's AGM in the Kruger National Park, one of the GRAA’s key support bases where rangers are working tirelessly in the face of some extreme challenges.
For further information please contact:

Game Rangers Association of Africa
Cell: +27 (0)82 3959402
Fax2email: +27 (0)86 6196934
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
URL: www.gameranger.org

 

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