Latest News! 25th February, 2021

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Robinson Pass Robinson Pass - Photo: Andries Grundling

The week that was...

* Changes in tourism

* Great South Africans

* Visible policing

* Reinstating Road Signs

* Podcast

* Pass of the week

Changes in tourism

Covid 19 has changed the face of tourism. It's going to be a long time before things return to what they were before. For those businesses that catered only for the overseas market, it's going to a major adjustment trying to capture the local market, which is tough and demanding when it comes to value for money. Those businesses that have always aimed at the local market will benefit from increased bookings from South Africans who can no longer travel overseas and are now rediscovering South Africa. Every business in the tourism sector will need to adapt and innovate.

We believe this trend is here to stay for a long time. With all the hoops and hurdles one has to jump through on an overseas trip, a local trip is just so much more attractive. 

Great South Africans - Ian Player

Born in Johannesburg, Player was educated at St. John’s College, Johannesburg, South Africa and served in the 6th Armoured Division attached to the American 5th Army in Italy 1944–46.

His conservation career started with the Natal Parks Board in 1952 and whilst Warden of the Umfolozi Game Reserve, he spearheaded two key initiatives:

  • Operation Rhino - that saved the few remaining southern race of white rhino.
  • Protected status for the Umfolozi and St. Lucia Wilderness Areas (now known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site)- The first wilderness areas to be zoned in South Africa and on the African continent.

Dr. Player was the Founder of the Wilderness Leadership School, which still runs the original wilderness trails to this day.

This led to the formation of the Wild Foundation, the Wilderness Foundation SA, Wilderness Foundation UK, Magqubu Ntombela Foundation not to mention the World Wilderness Congresses, first convened in 1977.

Amongst many orders and awards he counts Knight of the Order of the Golden Ark and the Decoration for Meritorious Service (the highest Republic of South African civilian award).

He was the recipient of two honorary doctorates:

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa from the University of Natal.
  • Doctor of Laws (LLD) (h.c.) from Rhodes University.

Player died on 30 November 2014 of a stroke. He was the brother of professional golfer Gary Player.

His archives and legacy are owned and managed by his nephew Marc Player, who has initiated several projects including books (Into the River of Life) a feature-length movie, a TV series built around Operation Rhino and the PLAYER INDABA which seeks global "PLAYERS' to raise funds to fight the extension of various threatened animal species.

Dr Ian Player

The famous movie director and producer Howard Hawks, wanted a movie about people who catch animals in Africa for zoos, a dangerous profession with exciting scenes the likes of which had never been seen on-screen before. The name of his blockbuster movie is Hatari!, starring John Wayne. Hawks increased his knowledge on animal catching from the humane work of Dr.Player. In 1952 South Africa was disastrously embarked to eliminate all large wild animals to protect livestock, and only 300 white rhinos survived. Player then started his famed rhino catching technique to relocate and save the white rhinos. Player’s humane project was called Operation Rhino and the renowned film documentary named Operation Rhino was produced. Hawks studied this film documentary repeatedly to help incorporate aspects of it into his film Hatari!.

In June 1964, Player appeared on the panel show To Tell the Truth as himself, highlighting his role as warden of Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park and his work protecting white rhinos. Host Bud Collyer noted that scenes of white rhinos shown at the beginning of the episode were from Ivan Tors' movie Rhino!, released a few weeks earlier, and for which Player acted as a technical advisor.

[Read more...]

Visible policing

Driving back from the Garden Route to Cape Town last week, I was most impressed with traffic officials at Albertinia and Worcester. The first incident involved a bakkie overtaking us on the Gouritz Pass crossing the double barrier lines. An officer was parked near the far side of the bridge and pulled the driver over. It must have been a long dressing down, as the bakkie only caught up with us (towing a caravan) two hours later. 

The second incident occurred where 6 vehicles ran a red light in Worcester, to access the N1 (a notoriously long wait). All of them were nabbed by traffic officials. Give us more visible policing please. It simply works!

Fixing up Mountain Pass Sign Boards

Our campaign to smarten up the MPSA sign boards is really gaining momentum now. A year ago when we decided to get stuck in, we realised we were up against overwhelming odds. Respect for private and state property no longer appears to be on the moral roadmap of many people.

We decided to make full use of our social media presence (68,000 followers and over 4 million post views per month) to start changing things for the better. In the process we trod on a few toes and offended some people, but we knew that was going to happen. If you want to make a difference, then you have to be prepared to roll with the punches.

Last week we mentioned the motorcycle group Proudly Meerkat as being one of the main culprits in terms of defacing not only our signs, but state signs with their stickers. Our post was copied onto their page and drew some dramatic reaction. The end result was that we were able to make contact with the owner of Proudly Meerkat in Pretoria, Henri du Toit. I had quoted him as stating that members were encouraged to replace PM stickers as fast as we removed them.

Henri has reassured us that he never wrote the post and that the comment came from one the club members. He stated that he has no control over what club members say on a public forum. I promised in turn to set the record straight. Henri has agreed that is wrong to place stickers on road signs and that in future he will discourage members from doing so. In short, we have agreed to hold hands with Proudly Meerkat and in time win over all their members in helping to make South Africa a better place.

How do we do it?

A typical sign board that we refurbish before we get started.
Reinstating an average road sign, takes between 50 minutes and 2 hours. This is more or less how we get the job done.

1.We wash the entire sign down with a soapy solution in a spray bottle.

2. The sign is then rinsed with fresh water to remove all soap residue.

3. All the stickers are removed using an angled paint scraper with a new Stanley universal blade. The scraper must be used virtually flat against the sign to avoid the blade digging into the paint. We usually lift just one corner of a sticker and then pull the rest off by hand. Reflective stickers have a metal like backing and will come off damaging the brown base paint in the process. These sections need to be recovered later. Difficult to remove stickers are slightly heated with a small blowtorch.

4. All painted graffiti is removed with chemicals like Prepsol, white methylated spirits or Benzine. Do not use thinners or mineral turpentine. The first will damage the paint as well as existing legal signage. The second will leave an oily film behind.

5. We then replace the old Cape Mountain Passes url with the MPSA url. These decals are precut in a factory in Cape Town in 3M reflective vinyl.

6. All scratches and scuff marks are filled with brown shoe polish and buffed.

7. The entire sign is then sprayed with chain lube, to prevent the application of new stickers and to seal the polish into the scratches.

8. Bullet holes are covered with a patch of 3M brown vinyl.

The same board after an hour's work.

So if we seem to get a little hot under the collar about these signs, it's because we come face to face with the vandalism at very close quarters. It is so unnecessary - not to mention very expensive to repair. Some of the signs are so badly mutilated (the Hexrivier Pass sign was blasted with a shotgun and the Homtini Pass sign provided entertainment to a group of local revellers who pelted it with hundreds of rocks.) Both of those require complete replacement. We will approach Western Cape Tourism for assistance with the costs.

So if YOU want to help keep our signs clean (and when I say "our" I mean all road signs) keep a small container in your car with the following in it: Angled Stanley paint scraper with a pack of new blades. And if you really want to help us, clean the glue residue off with Genkem Glue remover and a clean white rag. (Please don't use a coloured rag as it stains the white decals)


We chat about the last two days of our recent Wild Coast Tour. CLICK TO LISTEN

Pass of the Week

This week it's the turn of Limpopo Province to be featured. The spectacular Abel Erasmus Pass, named after a very prominent citizen of the area, was officially opened on the 8th of May 1959, and navigates the Manoutsa section of the Limpopo Drakensberg. It is regarded as an engineering triumph, with a sequence of bends and twists that can only give rise to admiration for the gold rush pioneers of the late 19th century that carved this route through the mountains with their wagons. The pass has 62 bends, corners and curves of which 12 exceed an arc of 90 degrees.

* * * * *   A B E L   E R A S M U S   P A S S   * * * * *

Trygve Roberts

Quote of the day: "Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves" ~ Abraham Lincoln

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