Imvelo 2018 Entries Closed!

The deadline to enter the Nedbank Swaziland Imvelo MTB Classic 2018 was Monday 30th of April! Did you miss it? Here’s what you can do:

Send an email to our race organisers at imvelo@biggameparks.org and BEG for a spot- just kidding! However, we are serious about emailing our race organisers- drop us an email asking to be added to the Waiting List. We aren’t promising any miracles but we will see what we can do!

 

Imvelo 2018 JPG

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Imvelo Entries: Open Tomorrow

Final reminder that entries for our 2018 Imvelo MTB Classic at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary on 9th June 2018 open TOMORROW 10th April 2018 at 6am:

Enter Online:
www.imvelo.co.sz / www.entrytime.com

At Our Parks:
Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary – at Our Resevations Office (Vickery Road)
Hlane Royal National Park – at the Main Gate

Enter In-store:
Adventure Sport Cycle Shops in Mbabane & Manzini

**PLEASE READ & TAKE NOTE OF CHANGES BEFORE CHOOSING YOUR RACE**
Time has come for recreating our Imvelo routes!  With future potential challenges traversing neighbouring land, we have brought Imvelo almost entirely onto Mlilwane.

HOGLET & FAMILY ROUTES
Minor adjustments will be made to these routes, still meandering through the plains relatively close to Mlilwane Rest Camp.

35Km CHALLENGE ROUTE
The major route change includes Nyonyane Mountain and removes the Usutu Forest.

CLASSIC ROUTE
“The most spectacular route in Swaziland” – is how our guinea-pig cyclist describes our new Imvelo Classic route!  He followed this with “extremely tough, and now I know I need to work on my fitness!”  Be warned – He is one of Swaziland’s top 10 MTB cyclists, so please take his lead!
Imvelo MTB Classic 2018 will be a very similar warm up through the plains, up and over Mantenga View Point and then heads for Mlilwane North through rural community.  The trail through community is on dirt road (good red clay, so slippery when wet) offering challenging climbs.  Crossing into Mlilwane North, dirt roads give way to 18km of immature single track, with opportunities for over-taking on ancient jeep-tracks.  The King of the Mountain is now at 1357m asl, celebrating a tough single-track climb and rewarded by a momentary view of Mbabane before wizzing down towards Ezulwini.  A 6km downhill section requires good brakes, and provides technical riding, which will thrill our top riders.  Crossing over a river brings cyclists back onto Mlilwane South for a final climb and drop to the finish at Rest Camp.
NOTE:

  • Our new grass tracks are still rough at this stage, although we will be working to reduce the resistance over the coming 2 months to provide a smoother ride.
  • Our route is currently 69km, but may be reduced slightly due to the toughness of this course.The route will not be shorter than 65km.
  • Total elevation gain/loss is 2043m
  • Time to ride Imvelo Classic route is expected to be a lot longer than our old 64km

 

Imvelo 2018 JPG

Taiwanese Rhino Horn Traffickers Given 29 Years!

Good news from Swazilnd!
Yesterday the sentencing of the 2 Taiwanese traffickers CHEN Bei Sun and HSIAO Chen Hao arrested with 24 pieces of white rhino horn at KM 3 international airport plus 7 pieces intercepted at OR Tambo.
In spite of application pending hearing before another judge for a mistrial to be declared and the case started afresh, there was no application for a stay of execution of sentencing and the trial judge had recused himself from hearing this application.The trial judge was free to proceed with sentencing- which he did. both accused having pleaded guilty to all charges and mitigation having been duly considered.
Count 1. possession of rhino trophies both sentenced to 9 years without option of a fine.
Count 2. Trafficikng of rhino trophies Both sentenced to 11 years without option of fine
Count 3. Export of rhino trophies. Both sentenced to 9 years without the option of a fine.
No suspension of any part of sentence. Sentences to run concurrently from date of arrest.
Plus compensation to owners of E/R 40 000 for each of the 3 rhinos linked to poaching scenes in SA by DNA  and a 4th one suspected to have been poached in Swaziland in the not too distant past. Failure to compensate will result in offenders serving a further 4yrs imprisonment.
The prosecution and investigating team has good reason to be proud! A big thank

you to all in SA that helped with various aspects of this case.
The South African authorities have put in motion the required processes for these criminals to stand trial in South Africa for charges relating to rhino poaching and trafficking once they have finished serving sentence in Swaziland.
Anti-poaching dog patrols and training session
Anti-poaching dog patrols and training session, Mkhaya Game Reserve, Swaziland

Another Rhino Poaching Attempt

 

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Another rhino poaching attempt has been thwarted at Hlane Royal National Park.
6 heavily armed rhino poachers from three different countries carried out their plan to plunder one of Swaziland’s (and Africa’s) rarest and most vulnerable iconic wildlife species.
At approximately 01h00 on Thursday morning (10th August), three heavily armed poachers entered a remote area of Hlane Royal National Park in a vehicle. A joint team of Royal Swaziland Police and Big Game Parks Rangers managed to intercept the vehicle deep in the bush during the anti-poaching operation, before any rhinos were poached.
When an attempt was made to arrest the suspects, the Police and Rangers came under immediate fire. The ensuing exchange of fire resulted in a Mozambican and a South African suspect being fatally wounded. A third Swazi suspect being wounded and admitted to hospital under Police guard. This suspect has a number of previous poaching convictions, and despite this, remains an employee of Hlane’s neighbouring RSSC Simunye Sugar Estate.
A second South African registered getaway vehicle was also apprehended and a Swazi and two South Africans were arrested on board. One of the South Africans is an SAPS Police Reservist in Mpumalanga and is believed to be the mastermind behind many rhino poaching cases across South Africa.
Two vehicles, a high-powered .375 hunting rifle, silencer, ammunition, an axe, daggers (knives), cane knife and carry bags were seized at the scene. The serial numbers on the hunting rifle have been erased and it is suspected to be stolen. .375 rifles are extremely powerful weapons and are often used for poaching rhino and elephant. The weapon is known as an “elephant gun” for its deep penetration and killing power.
This is the second attempt to poach rhinos in Swaziland this year. The previous attempt was also unsuccessful and was made by a rhino poaching group from South Africa on 10 June 2017, also on Hlane Royal National Park. It included Swazi, South African and Zimbabwean nationals.
In February this year two Taiwanese nationals were arrested at King Mswati lll International Airport while they were smuggling 31 pieces of rhino horns out of Swaziland on board a flight to Johannesburg en-route Hong Kong. Investigations have revealed that at least three of the suspected 9 rhinos poached in this consignment were poached in Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu Natal provinces across South Africa.
The intense poaching of more than three rhinos per day in South Africa shows no sign of abating as criminal syndicates continuously adapt to strategies employed by law enforcement agencies in the various rhino range states. Rhinos used to occur in 33 countries in Africa.
Rhinos now exist in just 11 rhino range states, having become locally extinct in the others. Of
the 11 countries, 6 had lost their rhino populations, but have subsequently reintroduced the
species. Swaziland is one of the six.
As evidenced in this case, corrupt officials very often facilitate the illegal acquisition and
trafficking of rhino horns and other wildlife products. Many cases have occurred, especially in
South Africa, where Police officers, game rangers and other officials have been involved in the
illegal rhino horn trade chain.
With the increasing militarization and other law enforcement pressure on poaching
syndicates, especially in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and an escalation in the level of
conflict, many poaching groups have turned their attention to alternative perceived soft
targets – including Swaziland.
It is nothing short of a miracle that Swaziland has lost only three rhino to poaching in the past
24 years given that rhinos have been poached to extinction for a second time in Mozambique
and that South Africa has lost 6000 rhinos to poaching since 2010, with most of these in the
provinces neighbouring Swaziland.
If Swaziland shows lenience in dealing with such cases, the floodgates will be opened and
Swaziland’s small rhino population will not be able to withstand the poaching onslaught.

 

Anti-poaching dog patrols and training session

INTERNATIONAL WORLD RANGER DAY- 50 years of service as a game ranger.

ROBERT NKONTSHO VILANE’S INTERVIEW –  Conducted by Ndumiso Nkhambule

Big Game Park’s mission is to provide a safe haven for Swaziland’s beleaguered wildlife within protected areas and to make the parks a safe place for visitors. A highly disciplined and effective game ranger force is a vital necessity to ensure this.

Big Game Parks’ rangers have been singularly successful in achieving exceptionally high levels of safety in and around her parks through strict application of the law, without fear or favour. Their efforts are publicly acknowledged for having effectively arrested the former carnage of wildlife and stopping rhino poaching in its tracks. Criminals have taken notice of this highly effective ranger force and Swaziland’s amended Game Act, and have steered clear of the parks, so making them along the safest places in Africa to visit.

Over past 5 decades there is a lot to be said about Nature Conservation in Swaziland, from re-establishing 22 species of wildlife to attracting commendations and support from high profile conservation giants, and who better to elaborate on that than a game ranger with 50 years’ experience under his belt? Robert Nkontsho Vilane has served as a game ranger at Big Game Parks from 1967-2017, he currently is still in service!

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What was it like, being involved in helping establish Big Game Parks and also being involved in the initial fencing project?

I’m very proud of myself, looking back from the start, what we did. I didn’t do it for myself but for the people of Swaziland and the future generations. I would like to thank Mr Ted Reilly (Machobane) for his vision which was a mission impossible from the early days of Conservation. Now his name will live forever for what he did for the country and the world at large, not forgetting His Majesty King Sobhuza II who was father of nature Conservation and for his wisdom, and of course His Majesty King Mswati III for his great support.

Truly speaking if it wasn’t for the effort of Swaziland’s Royal House and Machobane, I don’t think there will be animals left today.rangers fence patrol0001 small

You have worked for Big Game Parks for a long time, how is it different now to what it was like back when you started out.

Work these days is much easier than when we started. Nowadays when patrolling the bush and by chance you come across a poacher, it is much easier to arrest them than before. Last time working for game reserves was a difficult task and the people were always fighting the rangers saying that they are hunting their heritage which is owned by no one.DSC_0074 (2)

 

There is an old story about game capture in the early days, where you were catching warthogs and one warthog got the better of you. Could you share the story and give us some advice regarding warthogs?

Yeah I’ve been working for BGP for a very long time, started way back in 1967 and I’m still in service.  What I can say is that warthogs are wild animals and if you capture warthogs, they will give you a hell of a hard time.  If you are not careful enough, you might pay an ultimate price of being ripped apart and sometimes you get punished by the warthog with their tusk.  I’ll tell you what I’ve got a big scar on my leg.

Warthogs are very dangerous; people should not underestimate these creatures due to their size. They should be treated with great respect. l urge people to take extra care of wild animals especial warthogs, they will teach you an unforgettable lesson like they did to me.

Do you have any other memorable game capture stories?

A lot I can say about game capture, these days catching animals is very easy and simple.  During the early days of conservation in Swaziland I remember catching impalas at Hlane in middle of the night, chasing the animals with the car in the bush. Imagine driving a car at night at a high speed in the bush chasing animals!  I use to ask myself that if this car accidentally falls in a ditch what would happen? Is there life after that or I will die straight away at the scene? Even though we had fear for our lives, we gave our best and we proceeded with company of Petros Ngomane and others. Unfortunately Petros is retired and luckily for me I’m still in service as we speak right now.

Hippo capture 1

You worked with Petros Ngomane for a very long time.  Tells us about that?

When I started working for BGP, Petros Ngomane was already here working.  What I heard is that one day he was patrolling alone and he came across a poacher in the bush, Petros tried to reason with the poacher in order to bring him to book but the offender resisted arrest and started picking up a fight with Petros.  Unfortunately the poacher got the better of him and eventually stab him. Fortunately for Petros with the help of the doctors he stood back to his feet and continued protecting Swaziland’s heritage.  Even today Petros is still alive but not in service anymore.

 You were known as the voice behind the National Environmental Education Program on radio. How was that experience and what did you learn from it?

Actually doing the Environmental Program on radio was a very, very good move because lots of people were educated through the program and they learnt a lot from it. The Fact is we were trying to let people know that wild animals has the right to live as well as we do, and people should learn to live with animals side by side. Right now I’m getting old and l will be retiring very soon and still I’m saying the same thing – that is lets join hands in fighting poaching and conserving wild animals. Animals are not for Big Game Parks people, animals are for the entire world. People from abroad they come here to see these animals and I’ve noticed big coaches transporting tourists around Swaziland who come here to see these animals. Wild animals are our heritage and it’s for the Swazi people.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

You have also played a big role in upholding anti-poaching standards in Swaziland. Tell us more about that experience and what you learned from it?

I’ve learnt a lot and even today I’m still learning something and that animals need to be protected especial white and black rhinos, currently we have a big problem with rhino poaching. People are killing these innocent animals and soon these creatures will be history. I have mentioned before that wild animals are not for rangers or people working at game reserves or game farms; animals are for all people. Tourism these days is one of the growing industries, so tourists come here to see wild animals and thus improving the economy for small and big entrepreneurs.

Rangers are doing a great job fighting poaching and protecting wild animals from extinction, meaning that anyone willing to see wild animals can go to to one of the game parks and see the beauty of conservation. Wild animals are known to attract lots of different people from across the globe.

Anti-poaching dog patrols and training session

 

Going forward, what advice do you have for current and future Rangers alike?

To our fellow Rangers, all I want to say is don’t despair.  Keep doing the great job of protecting Swazi heritage, not for you, not for me, but for our children and future generations. Current rangers should do their job without fear and with courage, it will be very sad if this animals disappear in your hands. His majesty King Sobhuza ll gave us this job, not to anyone else, even His Majesty King Mswati III also followed his father’s footsteps and gave us words of courage.

Big Game Parks Shoot 2015