Tag Archives: SANPARKS

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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