Season’s greetings from Royal Jozini Big 6, I hope you all had a good festive season and are back into the swing of things as we march on through 2013.
You will see that this is 1 of 4 newsletters for 2013 – however before I begin, I feel it important to mention that I never got around to my final quarterly newsletter in 2012 ie. the 4 of 4 – so must apologise to those investors who think that I am either slack or was taught mathematics by an abacus–wielding mentor who never really passed on his skill to his protégé. I hope the GM report made up for the lack of a final newsletter in 2012 and if you did not receive this report, please let me know.
The big talking point on the estate at the moment has got to be the rising dam levels, 3 months ago none of us could have hoped for a better rainy season and at the time of writing this newsletter, the dam sits at 76.0% capacity – a big jump from 63.6% 12 months ago. In the month of January, we recorded 151mm, 130.3mm and 328mm rainfall at East shore, Funga Village and Zibe ranger camp in the North respectively. When one considers the average annual rainfall in this area varies from 450-600 mm, that is a lot of water. The Pongola River continues to flow strongly and the tip of the dam surges further north into RJB6 as the levels rise. The smell of rotting vegetation as previously dry flora now sits immersed in water is evident throughout the SZ side of the dam and the return of all aquatic bird species is truly remarkable. Our hippo population is also enjoying the change in conditions and are spread throughout their new environment. Unfortunately the rising waters have not helped with their attitude and they still show little respect for boats creeping in closer for a better view. Be careful when entering spaces of water with a lot of surface vegetation, the hippos remain fairly concealed and as we found last Friday afternoon, being surrounded by hippos is easily achieved.
The work done late last year to our marina slipway is paying dividends as this is now fully operational. We do however continue to race against the rising tide by protecting our breakwaters with stone gabions from the eroding actions of the prevailing South Wester and the swells this wind can generate. Since December, our main focus has been based on this project tying up both the TLB and truck as well as the majority of our workforce and another large group of casuals. We seem to be getting there. See pictures attached. We have had to close slipway 33 as the water has completely covered the cement section and the gradient of this entry will make launching on the remaining gravel section very difficult. Your 2 options are Mapivene and the Marina. The jetty from slipway 33 has now been moved to the marina and plans are underway to include additional mooring facilities here in the near future.
The wet conditions in January also caused two neighbouring dams in the North to burst their banks with all this water flooding down along the natural non-perennial river course of the Zibe and there are reports from guests that this water was at one point over 2 feet deep on Prince Mzweleni drive as it headed south towards Jozini dam. This has resulted in natural pans and rocky pools being filled throughout the entire Northern reserve – great for game life, not so great when trying to get from A to B. To this end, we thank the Japanese for the Land Cruiser!
The fishing over the wet season has not been its best, with a mighty Pongola muddying the water for huge distances both North and South of the river mouth. Unless your bait or lure manages to knock a tiger on the head, I personally have not heard of too many striped waterdogs being pulled from the dam. That being said, the water in the north of the dam has cleaned up somewhat and a friend of mine caught a nice 4kg+ tiger last weekend on lure just past Kujabula Lodge. I also heard rumours of a 6.1kg being caught from the marina in December but am still waiting for photographic evidence.
Whilst it is still a priority to introduce game into the East shore reserve during the course of 2013’s capture season, I can say that sightings in this area are now far more frequent than 12 months ago – our giraffe seem to be fully habituated to passing vehicles, warthogs forage along east shore road with little disdain for any visitors. Waterbuck, wildebeest, reedbuck, bushbuck and nyala can be seen heading water bound and hippos have been spotted near East shore gate.
In my GM report sent out last year, I mentioned that we had started a 3 month ranger training course – I am pleased to report that this course completed at the end of January and we took on another 4 rangers to assist in protecting the reserve. Our ranger team now sits at 14 split between the 3 camps. Besides a couple of herds of cattle being pushed into our reserve on their way to the mountain by cattle rustlers and the occasional hunting dog, we have had little incident in the reserve. I anticipate however, that with the marula season upon us and the locals thirst for their traditional marula brew called ‘’maganu’’, we will experience some uninvited guests looking to harvest this beautiful fruit!
Moving onto lodge construction – the lodge at plot 141 is progressing well, the show house at 222 was recently furnished for short term rentals and we seem to be receiving increasing visits from architects looking to design dream homes for their clients – certainly a positive sign.
As ever, I remind you of our accommodation options at Kujabula Lodge (www.kujabulalodge.com), www.royaljoziniaccomodation.co.za and the rustic Brown’s tented camp next to the Marina.
Let me come to the end of this newsletter by focusing on financial and administrative issues. We are still experiencing some investors not paying their monthly levies and we are working hard to reduce the outstanding amounts. We have appointed Garlicke & Bousfield Attorneys to assist in this debt recovery and the collection process is underway. Please can I ask that you all pay your monthly levies to avoid being stuck in their sights – whilst we continue to operate approximately 8% under budget, non-payment does affect our cash flow.
On the political front, Parliament reopened this week after a 2 month break and communication between the LOA and government has resumed.
Remember, the autumn season is fast approaching – I have always though these to be the best months on-site. With hot days, cool nights, tranquil azure waters and blue skies – that is the time to visit the bush. We hope to see you doing just that.
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