Monthly Report: MAY 2005. Law Enforcement: The month of May was quite an uneventful period which concerns law enforcement. Firstly the area was very quiet again, even quieter than April. Very few recreational fishermen occupied the rocks and beaches during May. But it must be taken that only 9 of the 20 working days was spent patrolling the area, a total number of only 17 permits were checked within these 9 days, and only 4 people were found angling without valid permits. On numerous occasions only the regular and local fishermen were encountered. The permits were checked in the following areas: Vleesbaai – 4 Grootrug – 6 Fransmanshoek – 2 Vegkop – 2 Visbaai – 3 Clearly showing that Vleesbaai and Grootrug was the most frequently visited areas of the Month. Fransmanshoek which is normally the busiest area was virtually the quietest of the areas, which is quite surprising. The quietness of the area can be blamed on bad weather which occurred during most of the weekends during May. Species Collected: 4 x Galjoen (All 4 were caught at Vegkop on one day by two recreational Fishermen Permit numbers: (31) 1483616 & (31) 1704778) This is the only fish that was observed caught during the month of May both Fishermen are regular fishermen to the area and are found at Vegkop on a regular basis. Other Activities: May was full of other activities in which the Rangers participated: - On Sunday the 1st of May the Rangers joined Riki van Rensburg and a large group of 4x4 vehicles and drove with these vehicles on the Misgunst 4x4 route, this was done mainly to promote conservation awareness between the drivers and people using the particular route. The rangers mingled with the group and talked about various aspects concerning conservation and the work being done in the area. The rangers often encounter the 4x4 route users when patrolling Visbaai. - On the 10th of May the rangers encountered two Groups of commercial oyster harvesters on Vleesbaai beach, (The Monroe’s and Braaf groups), the rangers maintained a presence with the two groups during the whole morning of harvesting, and talked to both group’s concession holders, much was learned during this period. It is thought that the presence of the Rangers on the beach also put the local resident’s minds at ease, confirming that these were in fact Commercial harvesters (with valid permits) and not poachers as many residents/visitors normally assume. - Three of the Rangers “off days” (11th – 13th May) were spent at a Schools Environmental Expo in the Conville Hall in George, where the theme was “the sea” in which 12 schools participated, each school having made a different display of the sea and discussing different aspects of it. During the 3 days the Rangers aided in guiding +/- 2600 visitors (mostly school children) through the hall and presenting the displays to the visitors, where displays were not accompanied by a presenter. The rangers did this in preparation for their own “environmental day” to be held at Fransmanshoek. Valuable experience and ideas were gained during these three day’s. On the 21st of May the Rangers joined Arne Purves and his other colleagues of Cape Nature at the annual Conservancy Forum held in Sedgefield; part of the forum was that the rangers had to present a Powerpoint presentation of the Gourits East Coastal Corridor Project and the work being done within the project area. Both Rangers presented the presentation covering all aspects of their work and what has been done as well as future work to be done, and the particulars of the area being worked in. The Rangers and their presentation were received with great enthusiasm, and the experience is seen as extremely valuable by the rangers. On the 30th and the 31st of May the Rangers planned to hold and Environmental Education day for three of the local schools in the region, e.g. Vleesbaai Primary, Hornstrass Primary and Buffelsfontein Primary. Hornstrass and Vleesbaai would visit the area on the 30th and Buffelsfontein would visit on the 31st, the Rangers both designed and painted two large posters over a period of 6 days, each poster displaying a terrestrial and marine food web separately, both posters containing animals that only occurs in the local area e.g. Caracal, Duiker, Vlakhaas etc. Of each of the posters a worksheet was designed which will be given to the children. It was decided that Fransmanshoek and the “Punt huisie” would host the day, a large army tent was organised to put the rangers displays in. The punt huisie was used by Arno Munroe from MCM’s (Marine Coastal Management) environmental education section, whom brought his own display’s which consisted of live marine organisms. Due to bad weather Hornstrass and Vleesbaai Primary both had to change dates and had to visit the area on the 1st of June, but the change didn’t provide any hassles. The schools were divided into 3 groups (By age) and then one group was taken into the tent with the displays, the other two groups then joined Arno and the last group was taken for a “walk and talk” around the Peninsula. Then the groups would circulate after 45min. The rangers were also joined by two of Cape nature’s ecologists to assist them with the groups as well as provided display material. Thanks to sponsorship from VODACOM the rangers could provide each child with a Hot Dog and a Cool drink after the groups have finished with the day’s activities. Both days were seen as a great success. Riki van Rensburg should also be greatly thanked for his help and advice and participation in making day such a success. Interesting Sightings: On the 5th of May the Rangers caused quite a stir in Vleesbaai when the swam onto Vleesbaai beach one morning dragging a 270kg Black Marlin behind them, very soon 90% of Vleesbaai’s local population stood on the beach surrounding the rangers and their prize. The rangers were on a routine patrol along the coast, in the vicinity of the “swimming pool” close to Vleesbaai when they spotted a stir in the water, for the rangers it looked like a Dolphin which got entangled in a large sheet of plastic. The rangers raced home to get their diving gear and swim out to the entangled animal (to hopefully free it), which was floating approximately 30m from the rocks into the ocean approximately 200m off Vleesbaai beach. After putting on their gear, the rangers jumped into the water and swam to the animal, on arrival the rangers realized with some surprise that it was not a dolphin but instead a Marlin (Which was dead when the rangers arrived). The rangers decided to swim/drag the 270kg Marlin the 200m to Vleesbaai beach to at least show someone or the town. The total length of the animal equalled 3.53m and again with the help of Riki van Rensburg and his crew the fish was removed from the beach. The meat was sold by MCM and the head and tail kept for preservation. The story reached the Mosselbaai Advertiser and Die Burger, both publishing the story. Black Oystercatcher Update: The Rangers has noticed that the pair down at Vegkop (Pair 1) ringed chick has finally left the care of its parents throughout May the ringed chick was not spotted once, but its other brother/sister is still with the pair, but it is expected that it will soon leave the nest as well. The same happened with the pair at Kanon, the ringed chick has not been spotted with its parents and it too has probably left the care of its parents and joined a bachelor group, to head to Namibia. Pair 4’s chick in Visbaai is also still going strong, being fully airborne and able to escape predators, but this chick will probably have to stay with its parents for quite some time still.