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Letaba bridge

Shortly before Doug Harebottle left the ADU he had a vision about turning Kruger National Park green on the SABAP2 website map. He spoke to Peter Lawson about working towards a minimum of four atlas cards per pentad over a three year period and arranged for the ADU to be registered with SANParks Scientific Services, with Les Underhill heading the project. SANParks then registered four atlas observers to be able to collect bird data away from tourist routes with authority from Section Rangers when doing so. These are the only four people who will have this privilege. The formalities of registration were finally completed in late November 2013 and Peter and his team started on the task of atlasing the inaccessible-to-the-public pentads in early December.

We also want accessible pentads which have already been well covered to continue to be atlased because we can never collect sufficient data, particularly in Kruger National Park which is such a large and incredible natural area. So that is where all you Citizen Scientists visiting Kruger step in. The more atlas cards we can get throughout Kruger the better; the birding is exciting and rewarding in this vast area at all times of the year.

There are still pentads on tourist routes within Kruger that have not yet reached the minimum of four checklists and we urge you to concentrate on these during your visits. Some may only have a tourist road traversing a corner, or small section of a pentad but it can still be rewarding to spend the two hour minimum in such areas and end up with a reasonable list. We urge you to do this to help with turning Kruger green. Ad hoc and Incidental records are certainly not wasted as well but unfortunately do not work towards changing the colour on the website map.

To assist you all on your Kruger visits, here is a list of target pentads on tourist roads and other areas for you to concentrate on and you can all play a part in this exciting project in bringing them to four cards, plus more if possible. These pentads are listed from south to north:

• 2445_3155 – Metsimetsi Trails Base Camp east of Tshokwane.

• 2440_3155 – east of Tshokwane on the Lindanda road S35. • 2435_3150 – east of Tshokwane on the Trichardt road S37. Only covers a small corner of the pentad.

• 2435_3140 – north of Tshokwane and west of the main tar road on the N’waswitsontso road S125. Also includes Hamilton’s Tented Camp and the S36 going south.

• 2435_3135 – includes a section of the S36 in addition to Imbali Safari Lodge and Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga Lodge.

• 2435_3125 – includes Manyeleti Rest Camp in Greater Kruger.

• 2435_3130 – the Mahlabyanini waterhole which has a small loop of the S145 south of Talamati Bushveld Camp. It also adjoins the northern boundary of Manyeleti Game Reserve and Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

• 2430_3120 – this pentad is on the main approach to Orpen Gate (R531) on a new section of Kruger and starts at the Wildlife College.

• 2405_3150 – small section of the Old Main Road S90 north east of Satara.

• 2420_3120 – east of Ngala Lodge in the Ngala Game Reserve which borders onto western Kruger. Half of the pentad is in Kruger.

• 2425_3200 – a narrow strip of Kruger on the eastern boundary adjoining Mozambique, with access from Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge.

• 2335_3130 – corner of the H1-6 main road between Letaba and Mopani.

• 2335_3140 – the Giriyondo Border Post into Mozambique north of Letaba. Passport access is permitted for 4×4 vehicles provided you have accommodation reserved in either Kruger or Mozambique.

• 2325_3110 – includes the Mitomeni Pan on the Shongolola Loop S142. The Tropic of Capricorn runs through this pentad.

• 2325_3130 – on the eastern boundary with Mozambique S50. Includes the Shibavantsengele Lookout in the Lebombo Mtns.

• 2320_3110 – includes a small section of the S142 Shongololo Loop across a corner – a good birding area with nice habitat.

• 2315_3115 – the south east corner of the pentad includes Olifantsbad Pan and the main tar road H1-6 between Mopani and Shingwedzi runs from south to north.

• 2315_3120 – the Old Main Road S144 runs right through the pentad and includes the Dzombo West Waterhole.

• 2310_3120 – the Old Main Road S144 runs across the southern end of the pentad and the north west corner includes a small section of the tar road H1-6 with a river view.

• 2305_3130 – the Shingwedzi River and the S50 cuts through the south west corner of the pentad.

• 2255_3120 – the H1-7 main road north of Shingwedzi borders onto the south west corner of the pentad.

There is plenty of atlasing opportunity for patient observers and you will be valued Citizen Scientists contributing to the project. Apart from the target pentads above there are many others not mentioned that can be accessed from private reserves and residential areas adjoining the western boundary, and still others which are on 4×4 routes and walking trails within the Park.

We thank Doug Harebottle for doing the preliminary legwork and for completing all the red-tape technicalities such filling in of forms and writing motivations. We are grateful to SANParks for approving the proposal. It will be fantastic, in return, to be able to give SANParks an assessment of the avifauna of the Kruger National Park which goes beyond their wildest dreams.

And, hey, wait a moment, there is another announcement still to come about atlasing in the Kruger National Park and surrounding areas in 2014, so keep a lookout for this.

Peter Lawson is leading this miniproject within the greater SABAP2 initiative – it is a maximiniproject! If you need to be in touch with Peter, his cell is 082 893 8804.

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