Gus Adendorff Part 8
Gus often came across coal bearing reefs in the KRUGER PARK, he was told by the Senior Ranger Col. Roland-Jones to not mention it to anyone, although the National parks Board held the mineral rights one never knew what the politicians could be up to and it would indeed be a very sad day for all nature lovers and for South Africa if this portion of the Park would be ruined by mining.
The area was unique for its birdlife, mammals and plants which is completely undisturbed by man.
The cyclone Astrid made her appearance on 1 January 1958 and it rained for an entire month. Gus measured 177 mm within 24 hours, at Punda Maria, a total of seven hundred and sixty two millimetres were recorded during January and February 1958! The soil was sodden, venturing onto the roads with a vehicle was looking for trouble which ended with lots of digging and hauling and sweating and threatening.
Springs from which crystal clear water gushed, opened up everywhere, rivulets transformed into rivers.
Gus was transferred to Satara at the end of 1958 taking over from Dawie Swarts and handing over his beloved Punda to Peet v/d Merwe.
The Adendorff couple moved into the Rangers residence an old blockhouse still purchased by the first Warden Col. Stevenson Hamilton, standing on stilts with corrugated iron on the outside and wood panelling on the inside – not ideally suited for the Lowveld climate – in summer it was an oven and in midwinter a freezer.
Gus and Pat lived here for three very happy years, despite them being told by Game Guard Elimon, that the place was haunted apparently a man often sat on the veranda operating a sewing machine, the Adendorffs fortunately never came across the tailor.
Gus remembered the area for its vast herds of and the large number of accompanying predators, with the Lipape and Tswiriri at Tshokwane and the Rabelais and Hartebeesfontein areas at Kingfisherspruit Sections having exceptionally high Zebra and Wildebeest herds as was the case in the Mlondozi and Salidji areas. These animals followed their historical migratory/ grazing routes; these routes were curtailed when the veterinary fences were erected on the western boundary. Many herbivores died here during the drought period before they got used to the fences and developed new patterns.
The dry periods was a time of feast to the predators as they soon learnt to drive the herbivores into the fence and then make their random killings.
At the Shibangwanene stream where it flows into the Olifants River, near the old Gorge Camp; Gus came across a tree on the banks of the fast flowing current with markings on the trunk bark, which must have served as an anchor for crossing wagons, preventing the wagons from being washed down the river.
The trail must have been used by traders to and from Mozambique. At a few sites ash heaps were found as well as inscriptions in the tree bark. A Baobab carried “Briscoe-1890” another “1891” and “W.H. Barter – 1901”.
Unfortunately the Gorge Camp was broken down due to a problem with fresh drinking water – water was drawn from the Olifants River. Gus kept one of the huts as an overnight hut for when on patrol. Apparently the Gorge Camp was often hired by a visiting group and some wild parties were held, this could be another story.
Gus mentioned that of the finest roaring took place in the Gorge area, with the roars echoing and resonating from the cliffs and through the valleys – a place with wonderful acoustics.
The water for Satara was pumped from a borehole about 270 metres from the compound and was supervised by Nambrete Sithole, it was his duty to switch off the pump at 22:00.
One morning early Nambrete arrived at the Rangers abode walking with difficulty and with his head all bandaged when questioned about his condition, he told that after had turned of the water pump the previous evening and he was a little way from his hut, he realised that he was being followed by Lions.
He ran off and shut his door, peering outside he saw two Lionesses, fortunately they left before sunrise.
When asked to remove the bandage, no injury was found when questioned about it Nambrete mentioned his terrible headache, the bandage was taken off after a week, apparently he also injured his leg – pulled a muscle during the sudden burst of speed during the race with the Lionesses.
One evening at Satara a leopard got into the Adendorff chicken run and killed twenty four chickens of which one was taken away, leaving nine. A few days later a Picanin was sitting on a drum near the chicken run eating his porridge, the falling crumbs were being picked up by the roaming chickens. Suddenly a yellow spotted flash appeared and vanished with a chicken in its mouth.
Gus could not allow this to continue, Nambrete offered to make a trap out of small poles, a chicken was tied by its leg to a peg deeper in. A spring trap which was chained to a peg was placed at the opening; all this was well camouflaged for this cunning animal.
The following morning the Leopard was caught and destroyed. The animal was old with badly worn teeth, the reason for changing to a diet of the Satara Ranger’s poultry – the hen used as bait was unharmed and released to lay her eggs and eat the porridge crumbs.
Gus now had two dogs Bonzo a thoroughbred Boxer and Abdul a purebred Boerboel, as a pair the accounted amongst others for three large male Baboons.
One day while driving back home at dusk they spotted four Lions walking in the road, the dogs were on the back of the truck with the game Guard. Gus shouted to the Game Guard to hold Bonzo down – too late the Boxer had seen the Lions and was off in a flash with Abdul following. The Boxer grabbed one of the Lions by its hind leg, the wild animal turned and swiped at its aggressor sending it sprawling. Pat was by now hysterical as she imagined both dogs were being killed. Fortunately the Lions disappeared into the bush and the dogs could be called off, they returned and jumped onto the back of the truck, Bonzo the big hero except for a gash on his back, whose scar he wore until his time came.
While at Satara an expedition lead by Dr. Willem Punt to track the fateful van Rensburg trek of 1836. Gus who would act as an interpreter was part of the group who set off the morning of 18 September 1959.
They travelled from Satara to Letaba, two Jeeps crossed at Giriyondo, while the rest of the party would cross at Pafuri.
Their party travelled only 19 kilometres into Mozambique the first day due to the rough terrain. They were hoping to reach the Shingwedzi River where there was an old crossing called the Mashamba Drift.
A compass was used to indicate the direction of travel as there were no roads, impenetrable jungles Ironwoods obscured their caused many deviations, fuel was running low, they decided to return to Kruger and refuel, one Jeep ran out of petrol about eight kilometres short of Letaba while the other barely made it.
The vehicles were scratched and the canvas roofs were torn. The group set off the following morning and crossed at Nwanetsi and proceeded to Mapalunquene, then to Gedja where they crossed the river by ferry, here they were informed by the Assistant Administrator that the Portuguese officials were already at Matsambu about a hundred kilometres upstream of the Limpopo awaiting them. They joined up with the rest of the group later that day.
The following afternoon the Portuguese returned to camp telling them that the natives knew of an old anvil in one of the kraals. The South Africans could visit these kraals as the Natives were very suspicious them.
The following day the Portuguese returned with the anvil and with the information the van Rensburg trek party had been massacred at the Dzindi Stream just of the old Inhambane trade route.
The group was allowed to cross the river the following morning, arriving at the site they sifted through the soil and found a few pieces of porcelain none could be related to anything, a metal detector also did not reveal anything.
Dr. Punt bought the anvil and the group departed on 26 September 1959.
They followed the Limpopo route and noticed no signs of Nature Conservation what so ever on the eastern side of the Lebombos.
They often came across places along the sandy riverbank where netted fish were just left to rot.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
Convenor of the AIKONA Group.
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
Done 141 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.
Last edited by gmlsmit on Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.