Tag Archives: SANPARKS


Aviation Central recently received an invitation to attend a handover ceremony of four Bat Hawk aircraft to the South African National Parks. (SANParks)

Anglo American Platinum donated four Bat Hawk surveillance aircraft to South African National Parks (SANParks) to aid in their surveillance, conservation, and anti-poaching efforts. The sponsorship agreement of the aircraft is valued at over R3.8 million.

The donation is in line with the healthy environment pillar of the organization’s sustainable mine plan, which is aimed at maintaining a healthy environment by creating waterless, carbon-neutral operations as well as delivering positive biodiversity outcomes.

The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy officially receives the Bat Hawk Light aircraft from Anglo American Platinum on behalf of SANParks. With her are Executive head: Projects at Anglo American Platinum – Mr Prakashim Moodliar and SANParks Chief Pilot, David Simelane

The Kruger National Park (KNP), which spans over 2 million hectares of land and is divided into 22 sections, continues to face several operational challenges linked to animal poaching, the poisoning of animals as well as snaring. The four Bat Hawk aircraft, which are proudly assembled in South Africa, are an affordable and safe alternative to helicopters and will go a long way in assisting with the Kruger’s conservation and anti-poaching efforts. Other benefits of the aircraft include its great visibility during adverse weather conditions and its light undercarriage which can easily maneuver through porous terrain.

Minister Creecy tests out one of the Bat Hawk Light Aircraft

Speaking at the handover event of the aircraft, Anglo American Platinum’s executive head of projects Prakashim Moodliar said, “Our donation of the Bat Hawk aircraft presents an important step for biodiversity and conservation at the Kruger National Park. As an organization that is committed to re-imagining mining to improve people’s lives, Anglo American Platinum has always been clear that we cannot do this work alone, and that building a safer, cleaner, and more sustainable future has to be founded on the collaboration and knowledge sharing that comes from partnering with likeminded organizations.”

 Mr David Simelane, Mr Cornel Du Plessis, Mr Stephen Bullock, Dr Danny Govender, Minister Barbara Creecy, Mr Prakashim Moodliar, Mr Property Mokoena, Ms Hapiloe Sello, Mr Hermanus Prinsloo and Ms Yolan Friedman.

Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment said: “Anglo Platinum joins several international and local companies and individuals who work with SANParks to protect our natural world and our threatened species. These Ultra-Light aircraft will assist us in carrying out aerial patrols as well as monitoring and effectively managing the environment. As custodians of our fauna and flora, SANParks has limited resources at its disposal. It is therefore important to form partnerships to look after our country’s rich and varied biodiversity”.


Questions and Answers by Aviation Central to SANParks

Q: Who donated the Aircraft?
Anglo American Platinum

Q: What is the value of the 4 aircraft?
A: R3 million, eight hundred thousand ZAR

Q: Will additional rangers receive pilot training or will additionally be employed?
A: There will be training for current Section Rangers

Q: Where will the Bat Hawks be stationed (Park and Camps)

A: Skukuza , Malelane, Letaba and Shingwedzi

Q: How will the Bat Hawks be used?
A: Law enforcement, conservation, and monitoring

Q: We know a Bat-hawk has low operating costs compared to other aircraft, But what is the estimated operating cost per hour?
A: Thousand Rands compared to ten thousand for the helicopter

Q: What is SANParks total Air fleet consist of?

A: Two fixed-wing four-seater Cessna, three Airbus Squirrels, and four Bat Hawk_

Q:. Does SANParks receive support from the South African Air Force or SAPS airwing?

A: We do receive support upon request, and it depends on availability and budget.

Q: The donated fuel from TotalEnergies just a few weeks ago, van the fuel also be used for the Bat Hawks?

A: The Anglo Platinum donation comes with maintenance and fuel support to the tune of Five Million Rands

Q: Why bat hawk vs other aircraft (besides running costs)

A: They are durable and technically suited for the KNP terrain.

Q: What type of missions will they be used to carry out (is it just surveillance, animal counting, etc) A: All conservation-related work

Q: What tasks do the Airwing / Fixed and Rotor wing used for besides poaching?

A: Census support, monitoring of rivers, and general maintenance of the ecosystem.

Q: Project Skywards, a Fundraising project, needs R19m and the SANParks website only indicates that R79 200 has been donated, is this status correct?

A: It will be updated after the Anglo Platinum donation and the Total Energies.

Registration Information on the four donated Aircraft






The Bat Hawk is proudly designed and built in Mbombela (Nelspruit), South Africa

The performance of the Bat Hawk in its multiple options has been widely acclaimed as nothing short of sensational. 

In the hands of a learner, it remains perfectly balanced for fingertip control and hands-off flight but pushed to the maximum by an experienced pilot the maneuverability is breath-taking.

There is a big demand for this aircraft in surveillance and conservation industries and with the Bat Hawk’s propeller up and out of the way it reduces the risk of damage by grass, sticks, stones, and sand. Making it a true “Bush Plane”.

The Bat Hawk’s cockpit is very similar to that of a helicopter with excellent forward visibility as well as to both sides.

The Bat Hawk is a proudly South African “Light Sport Aircraft” designed and built for tough African conditions.

The aircraft is supplied as a complete ready to fly and complies with the ASTM2245-12c Build Standard rules and regulations as well as South African Civil Aviation Type Approval.

It features a strut-braced high wing, two seats in a side-by-side configuration open cockpit, fixed tricycle landing gear, and a single Rotax engine in tractor configuration.

As a conventional 3-axis light sport aircraft, the Bat Hawk does not rely on pilot weight shift to affect control. Twin seats are positioned side-by-side for full dual control and both crew members are well protected from the weather by an aerodynamic fiberglass pod and large wrap-around windshield.

The Bat Hawk has been designed and developed in South Africa primarily for surveillance and conservation.

Dimensions of the Bat Hawk

Overall length – nose to rudder TE 18.19 feet (5.544m)
Length – propeller plane to rudder TE 17.40 feet (5.304m)
Undercarriage wheel track 5.42 feet (1.652m)
Main wheel size 8.00 x 6.ins
Nose wheel size 4.00 x 4.ins
Typical empty weight–standard equipment 573.2 lbs (260 kg)
Maximum fuel 123.0 lbs (56 kg)
Maximum weight all-up weight 1204.2 lbs (540 kg)
Minimum solo crew weight 163 lbs (74 kg)
Average dual crew weight 396.8 lbs (180 kg)
Take-off weight with full fuel/average crew 1100.0lb (499 kg)
Cruise Speed: 70 knots
Stall Speed: 36 knots
Vne: 92 knots
Length: 6,00m
Wingspan: 9,50m

South African National Parks and/or wildlife conversation need all the help they can get, if you think you can assist please use the contact information below…

Nthabiseng Moeletsi
General Manager: Fundraising
Contact number: +27 12 426 5034

Lebogang Phetlha
Email: Lebogang.phetlha@sanparks.org

To see other fundraising projects by South African National Parks go to https://www.sanparks.org/fundraising/

Photos by Swanie Swanepoel and Anglo American Platinum

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See a short handover video
Video by Anglo American Platinum


TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa Managing Director and CEO, Mariam Kane-Garcia handed a cheque at a symbolic handover to the value of R4, 5 million rands to the South African National Parks (SANParks) Airwing for their fuel when they embark on anti-poaching operations. The handover also marked a long-term relationship between TotalEnergies and SANParks which has existed for over 60 years; as well as a continuation by TotalEnergies to create awareness of its environmental stewardship, its focus on nature conservation and its contribution to the communities in which it operates in.

Accepting the cheque on behalf of SANParks, SANParks Chief Operating Officer, Lize McCourt thanked TotalEnergies for the transformative partnership that has existed for over six decades with SANParks. “TotalEnergies has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that they are a formidable partner because they have partnered with us on various programmes over the years. McCourt said that “the on-going rhino poaching incidents in our country is an area of concern to government and ordinary people including corporate South Africa. It is with great humility and sense of pride that SANParks accepts the generosity presented by TotalEnergies – this is proof that together we can do more to win the fight against rhino poaching.”

Programmes which TotalEnergies have partnered with SANParks over the years range from the SA National Parks Week, which took place on 12 -16 September this year and affords South African citizens a chance to visit SA National Parks for free, SANParks Kudu Awards, the marketing campaigns including the Golden Classics Concert at the Golden Gate National Park, the greening projects as well as the Environmental Conservation Education and Awareness projects e.g. Keep Kruger Clean campaign which ran for over 15 years in the KNP as well as the Walk on the Wild Side programme:

We really appreciate this gesture as it will not only make it easier for our air services to patrol and react to conservation teams on the ground in the vast areas National Parks provide for the protection of wildlife, but it also strengthens our relationship with one of our important business partners; concluded McCourt.

TotalEnergies Mariam Kane-Garcia (wearing black and white) officially hands over a cheque worth R4,5 million to the SANParks Chief Financial Officer, Dumisani Dlamini (middle) for the fuel provision of the SANParks aircraft. With them are (from left to right): SANParks GM: Area Integrity Management – Dr Nicholus Funda, TotalEnergies General Manager – Strategy, Corporate Affairs, Marketing and Communications – Sunil Gandhi, SANParks Chief Pilot (the Blackhawk) – David Simelane, SANParks Chief Operating Officer – Lize McCourt and TotalEnergies General Manager Lubricants & Specialities – Chris Walkinshaw.



Not Aviation related, But something we carry close at heart and Aviation can play a BIG roll in preventing RHINO POACHING

Also see
SANParks Celebrates South Africa’s First Black Game Capture Pilot
Media Excursion to the Kruger National Park August 2018
David Simelane Promoted To Chief Pilot Of SANParks Air Services


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A total of 451 rhino were poached in South Africa in 2021, 327 within government reserves and 124 on private property.  While there is a 24 percent decrease in rhino poaching compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019, there has been an increase in poaching on private properties.

In 2021, 209 rhino were poached for their horns in South African National Parks – all in the Kruger National Park.  This was in fact a decrease in comparison to 2020 when 247 rhino were poached within the national parks. It is important to note that none of SANParks’ smaller rhino parks experienced any rhino losses from poaching in 2021, in comparison to the 2 rhino that were poached in 2020.

The steady decline in rhino poaching in Kruger Park is related to an increase in the intensity of anti-poaching activities in the Kruger National Park. A close working relationship between the police’s endangered species unit, the SANParks environmental crimes inspectorate has resulted in increased arrests and convictions.

One of the unintended consequences is that poaching syndicates are looking to other areas for easy prey and this has resulted in their targeting private reserves in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Over the last year conservation and anti-poaching efforts have intensified countrywide as a joint effort is made by state-owned conservation areas, government and private landowners to reduce the poaching of rhino in South Africa. More targeted deployment of resources is being assisted by the roll out of a CSIR-developed situational awareness platform known as CMORE into the integrated wildlife zones. Through this single technology platform all role players are able to collaborate, making use of real-time insights and analytical capability, linking, for example, camera traps and ranger patrols while integrating a range of other systems.

Information collected and communication flows through the Environmental Enforcement Fusion Centre (EEFC) which continues to support the teams at both a tactical level and strategic level.  Our analysis capabilities have also improved, resulting in the increased identification of those involved in rhino poaching and trafficking and improved and expanded investigations by multi-disciplinary teams.

SANParks, provincial nature reserves and private rhino owners are dehorning rhino to deter poachers, while SANParks is investigating the feasibility of additional actions such as anti-poaching initiatives focused on apprehending poachers and establishing additional founder populations outside the Kruger National Park.

Government continues to work closely with the private sector and non-governmental organisations through the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros approach and the draft National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT) to address rhino poaching.

In 2021 there were 189 arrests in connection with poaching activities: 77 within the Kruger National Park and 109 outside the Park. This compares with 156 people arrested countrywide in 2020. In the 38 verdicts handed down by the courts, 37 cases resulted in the conviction of 61 accused rhino poachers/traffickers.

The following are among some of the successful prosecutions during 2021:

  • Project Python: Three persons were arrested and several properties seized. The 3 accused were charged with racketeering and money laundering relating to rhino horn trafficking. One of the accused Ping WU was convicted on two money laundering charges in the Tembisa regional court. The case was remanded to 9 February 2022 for sentencing. The racketeering trial against the other two accused, Huang and Chen, continues and was postponed to the 3 March 2022 for the state to lead further evidence.
  • S v Arlendo Mhlanga; Hlayisile Adam Hlongwane; Inancio Chauke were sentenced to 85 years’ imprisonment, effective sentence of 35 years imprisonment after being convicted on 10 counts in relation to the killing of three rhinos in the Pilanesberg National Park, the possession, transportation, cutting of 6 rhino horns, theft and the possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition and trespassing. In addition, the Ford Courier vehicle which was used during the commission of the offences was forfeited to the State.
  • S v W Mhangani & and 2 others were convicted for killing 3 rhinos within the Kruger National Park, for being illegally in SA, trespassing, possession of unlicensed firearm and the possession of unlicensed ammunition. Accused 1 was sentenced to an effective 45 years imprisonment and accused 2 and 3 were sentenced to an effective 30 years imprisonment.
  • S v GV Tibane and J Matshinga Sithole were sentenced to 19 years imprisonment following a conviction in relation to trespassing in the Kruger National Park, contravention of the Immigration Act, illegal killing of a rhino, possession of firearm with obliterated serial number, possession of silencer, possession of firearm with intent to commit crime, possession of ammunition and possession of an axe.
  • S v Emmanuel Mdluli was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment after being convicted on charges of trespassing, possession of firearm with the intention to poach a rhino, possession of firearm with serial number obliterated, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of dangerous weapon, contravening Immigration Act.

On the international front, the following are examples of the important work that is taking place between South Africa and those countries implicated in wildlife crime:

  • A Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) process was successfully finalised between SA and Poland, after receipt of a request from Poland relating to rhino horn trophy hunting in South Africa;
  • Operation Golden Strike, which relates to the cooperative work done between Southern Africa and South East Asia, has set a platform for better cooperation between these countries with the aim to combat wildlife trafficking at international levels. Several successful operations, bilateral engagements and information sharing sessions were conducted during the reporting period;
  • A controlled delivery between South Africa and Vietnam took place in July 2021, resulting from the work between the Hawks and the Vietnamese authorities on a consignment of rhino horns and suspected lion bones that was trafficked to Vietnam. The operation was successfully conducted and 138kg of rhino horns and an estimated 3 tons of suspected lion bones were seized at Da Nang Port in Vietnam. The investigation continues between the two countries;
  • Cross border investigations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China are underway as a result of a joint integrated operation between the Hawks, assisted by DFFE and the transport sector at OR Tambo International Airport in December 2021. A total of 32 rhino horns were seized. The information obtained during this operation was shared with the People’s Republic of China authorities, which resulted in the arrest of one suspect in South Africa and two suspects in China as well as seizure of additional rhino horns.

South Africa remains committed to safeguarding the country’s rhino populations, and will continue to work tirelessly, alongside the private sector, committed NGOs as well as authorities in transit and destination countries, to combat wildlife crime.

** Members of the public can report any suspicious activities around wildlife to its environmental crime hotline which is 0800 205 005 or the SAPS number 10111.

To access a recording of Minister Creecy’s statement, click on: https://we.tl/t-rUwasWlZ7X


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David Simelane Promoted To Chief Pilot Of SANParks Air Services

South African National Parks (SANParks) is proud to announce that Ndabenhle David Simelane has become the first black Chief Pilot for SANParks Air Services. SANParks Chief Operating Officer Lize McCourt, said, “Simelane’s most recent promotion sees him moving from the rank of pilot to SANParks Chief Pilot and Person Responsible for Operations as per the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s regulations”.

“It comes as no surprise that Simelane aka “The Black-Black Hawk”, is progressing through the ranks as he is a skilled professional pilot with solid management and leadership skills with approachability and strength of character to boot”.

On arrival at the SANParks Airwing in Skukuza almost a year ago, Simelane wasted no time forging a solid relationship with the Civil Aviation Authority – an endeavour that serves SANParks well in terms of aviation compliance.

Air Services is part of the newly formed Area Integrity Management unit (AIM), which comprises Air-Services, Firearm Management, Special Operations, Environmental Crime Investigations, and Environmental Compliance. The main objective of creating the AIM unit was to establish and better coordinate safety and security within SANParks. The objective is well underway, with AIM providing core functions such as logistical ranger support, amongst other crucial services within SANParks. McCourt has noted that the unit played an integral role in establishing the Command Centre within Table Mountain National Parks. We believe that the team will continue to excel with Simelane at the helm of Air Services.

McCourt concluded, “There is no doubt in my mind that Simelane will take SANParks Air Services to the next level and it is my sincere pleasure to see transformation in the airwing. Fly Black Hawk, fly!”

SANParks Celebrates South Africa’s First Black Game Capture Pilot

South African National Parks (SANParks) today celebrates Captain David Simelane, South Africa’s first black game capture rated pilot. Nicknamed “Blackhawk”, Simelane completed his game capture rating, which is an endorsement on his pilot license, with flying colours on 2 December 2020.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said, “we are extremely proud of Simelane and his achievement. He is an inspiration to many young black aspiring pilots and we hope that his passion will inspire more people to choose this industry as their careers.”

Game capture rating is a very complex pilot endorsement rating where a helicopter pilot needs to take into consideration the environment, animals and the crew all while managing the actual helicopter itself.

Simelane has been a helicopter pilot for 16 years and has flown all over the world including Madagascar and South Sudan. “I have a passion for flying and now I get to combine that with my love for wildlife and nature. I wake up in the morning knowing that every flight I do is to make a difference in nature conservation and in people’s lives.”

Simelane, who started working for SANParks earlier this year, is KNP’s first black helicopter pilot working under SANParks Air Services which provide aerial support for many of the departments within SANParks. He said “working as a pilot for SANParks is a calling, it is tough but I am in a blessed position to say that this is not a job for me, it’s a passion. Couple that with the fact that I am doing it in the same park I first fell in love with wildlife 25 years ago, is just a dream come true for me”

Mketeni emphasised that Simelane’s achievement is a reflection of SANParks’ action to improve employees’ expertise to address inequalities and disparities in staff profiles. SANParks is committed towards the development and implementation of access, equity, and equal employment opportunities within the organisation.

“As a world society has started to realise how important both our natural and cultural heritage is and with a passionate and educated person like Simelane at SANParks we can continue to conserve and leave future generations with the natural beauty and heritage of South Africa. Today is a proud day for SANParks and the SANParks Air Services, we salute David Simelane and wish him well as he goes onwards and upwards” concluded Mketeni.

Media Excursion to the Kruger National Park August 2018

Media Excursion to the Kruger National Park August 2018

Sunday the 19th August we were kindly invited to join up with SANPARKS officials to embark on a media excursion to the Kruger National Park.We were privileged to see certain things that the average person doesn’t experience as a visitor in the Kruger on a daily basis.There are major behind the scenes personnel and equipment that keeps the Kruger National Park flowing to protect most certainly its Wildlife,which brings many foreign visitors to see aninals,plant and birdlife face to face!

The conservation efforts in the park are extremely well underway to Anti-poaching operations,where we all know the brutal rhino poaching is taking part in the Kruger and many other Game Reserves around Southern Africa.The Kruger is not just suffering from losing its Rhinos,but aswell as many Elephants,Pangolin and other sort after game.

After a 3am wake-up call we were in convoy from Kruger Gate near Skukuza(The main camp in the Kruger National Park) and home to many operational centres of the park,such as the Skukuza Airport,Veterinary Clinic,ect.We made our way in OSV(open safari vehicles) towards Tshokwane picnic spot which is a half way house to Satara,we continued to the east of Tshokwane where we found the game capture unit waiting to conduct a game capture operation.The chossen area the ramgers and vets sort out for to capture Wildebeest to relocate them to The Mozambique’s Zinave National Park, over the years suffered a major loss of their wildlife and even having most of their wildlife extinct in certain areas,from many years of war.

A Airbus H125 “Squirrel” Helicopter was also part of the capture of game as the helicopter is equiped with a sound device divert the game into the “Boma” to Capture for relocation.The time spentbin the air for diverting game into the “Boma” is alot more quick and versitle then a diversion from a land vehicle.This operation takes alot of personal working as a team to insure the capture of atleast 20 animals that were saw captured are not over stressed or hurt as well as the members of the operation.

Once completed and all animals have been allocated to the trucks,they were transported through the border for a 26 Hour journey to the Mozambique’s Zinave National Park.

The journey continued towards Satara,we were buzzed over by a Bathawk as light sport aircraft manufactured in South Africa,many of these aircraft have now been delivered to the Kruger National Park.The Bathawk is supplied as a complete ready to fly aircraft. The aircraft complies with the ASTM2245 Build Standard rules and regulations as well as South African Civil Aviation Type Approval.
It features a strut-braced high-wing, a two-seats-in-side-by-side configuration open cockpit, fixed tricycle landing gear and a single engine in tractor configuration.

As a conventional 3-axis light sport aircraft LSA, the Bat Hawk does not rely on pilot weight shift to affect control. Twin seats are positioned side by side for full dual control and both crew members are well protected from the weather by an aerodynamic fibreglass pod and large wrap-around windshield.We were able to get to know pilot and section Ranger of Letaba,Andrew Desment who  was injured in 2013 during shootout with poachers in the park.

Satara Airstrip is also a private charter hub for aircraft bringing guests to the park and Singitas private lodge not far from Satara.We were welcomed by a Pilatus PC12, another Pc12 arrived shortly after and a Cessna Grand Caravan.

We then made our way to Skukuza Airport where we got a tour of the Majoc area and the SANPARKS airwing home to four H125 ‘Squirels’ and 2 Cessna aircraft.Our final day saw us at the K9 unit near pretoriuskop,There are currently 54 working dogs based at Kruger National Park’s dog unit trained in tracking firearms and animal products such as pangolin scales, ivory, and rhino horn, says Pretoriuskop section ranger Craig Williams.

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