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Ken Borland

Kruger National Park: Malelane 2

Posted on February 13, 2020 by Ken

Three African Hawk Eagles in a tree on the Steilberg Loop

The south-western foothills around Malelane and Berg-en-Dal provide some of the more interesting bird-spotting drives of the Kruger National Park and a sweltering December day was no exception.

The Steilberg Loop (S120) heads north off the Matjulu Loop between the two camps and this mountainous, rugged country boasts tall woodland.

And it was between those hills, in a tall tree, that three African Hawk Eagle, one of the fiercest hunters of the park, were majestically posing.

Given that African Hawk Eagle are often seen in pairs and are believed to pair for life, the third, brownish member of the group was probably a juvenile.

The African Hawk Eagle is closely associated with the Berg-en-Dal region, but an even more interesting bird soon came along and it was a less predictable sighting than the raptor that is comfortable with both high-flying hunting from the thermals or at close quarters under cover.

Bursting from the cover of some thick woodland, a Eurasian Golden Oriole provided a flash of golden yellow and black.

This beautiful Palaearctic migrant is uncommon and always a good sighting, even if it’s normally just seen zipping between trees. On this fortunate occasion though there was time to watch the Oriole a bit as it moved through the canopy of a tree.

It can be famously hot in this area of the Lowveld so it is always a good idea to spend some time on the bridge over the Crocodile River at Malelane Gate, birds tending to congregate around the water or in the riverside vegetation.

Great White Egret, Blacksmith Plover, Egyptian Goose, Blackwinged Stilt, Sacred Ibis and Little Swift are almost always there, but today there was also a Wood Sandpiper rustling around in the shallows and a Purple Heron, often secretive, was spotted in a little backwater. Other waterbirds seen were a Water Dikkop, African Jacana, a single African Openbilled Stork, Greenbacked Heron and Hamerkop.

A Bateleur came flying over the river, followed later by a Tawny Eagle, while a Striped Cuckoo was doing its best to hide away in the canopy of a Natal Mahogany tree.

Between the tar road from Malelane Gate and the Steilberg Loop lies the S110 and the Acacia woodlands it traverses are also excellent for birding, throwing up good views of Lilacbreasted Roller, Redbilled Buffalo Weaver, Crested Barbet and Marico Sunbird.

Clear blue skies & Lilacbreasted Rollers

Game seen along the S110 included African Elephant and Plains Zebra.

The eastern side of the tar road (H3) has roads like the Timfenheni Loop and the S114 taking one into mixed bushwillow and Marula woodlands and it was wonderful to see a pair of endangered animals along this stretch.

A Squarelipped Rhinoceros was passing the day serenely in the grasslands and, just a short way down the hill, a small group of Southern Ground Hornbill were walking around.

These are good game-viewing areas as well and Giraffe, Warthog and Chacma Baboon were also spotted.

Map of the Malelane/Berg-en-Dal area

Sightings list

Great White Egret

Blacksmith Plover

Egyptian Goose

Blackwinged Stilt

Sacred Ibis

Little Swift

Wood Sandpiper

Grey Heron

Reed Cormorant

Blackeyed Bulbul

Southern Black Tit




Longtailed Shrike

Lilacbreasted Roller

African Elephant

Redbilled Buffalo Weaver

Plains Zebra

Crested Barbet

Marico Sunbird

African Hawk Eagle

African Hawk Eagle

Glossy Starling

European Swallow

Forktailed Drongo

Eurasian Golden Oriole

Helmeted Guineafowl


Squarelipped Rhinoceros

Southern Ground Hornbill


Striped Cuckoo

Rattling Cisticola

Chacma Baboon

Striped Cuckoo

Tawny Eagle


Purple Heron

Water Dikkop

African Jacana

African Openbilled Stork

Greenbacked Heron


Look to the hills of the Eastern Cape for talent 0

Posted on December 16, 2014 by Ken

Mfuneko Ngam points to the north-east and says “Vuyisa comes from that mountain over there”, referring to Vuyisa Makhaphela, the Warriors opening batsman and his home village in the foothills of the Amatole Mountains in Alice.

We were standing alongside the main cricket field of the University of Fort Hare rural academy that Ngam runs in the heartland of Black African cricket, shortly after Cricket South Africa and Momentum announced that they are going to invest significantly in the joint venture programme that is undoubtedly going to produce successors to the likes of international fast bowlers Ngam and Makhaya Ntini, both of whom come from the same area.

Earlier, Raymond Booi, the Border Cricket Board’s high performance coach, had pointed out Mdingi village, lower down in the foothills, where Ntini and more recently Aya Gqamane (who, according to CSA development consultant Greg Hayes “never missed the ball with his plank as a little youngster”) come from.

Thando Mnyaka and Somila Seyibokwe are also members of the Warriors squad who hail from the same area and have all come through the Fort Hare academy.

“Vuyisa gave up cricket, he wanted nothing to do with it. But I managed to convince him to come and register at our MSC Business College and for the last two years he has been with the Warriors,” Ngam says.
The educational aspect is a key component of the program, because not everybody is going to make it in top-class cricket, as Ngam stresses.
“We are trying to build holistic cricketers, they must study and play. When we first started, nobody wanted to study but these kids need to understand that they need something to fall back on. That also takes the pressure off them when it comes to playing cricket.”
As a company, Momentum have placed a special emphasis on education leading to financial wellness, and Danie van den Bergh, the head of brand, said the academy is a perfect fit.
“They’ve built a dream here, we love it and we have bought into it. It’s a common thread in Africa that education is a key to success and if we can link sport to education then we can leave a legacy long after our six years with Cricket South Africa are over. It’s about long-term values and spreading the love of the game to everybody,” Van den Bergh said.
Amongst the improvements recently completed at the academy are a residence for the 15 cricketers per year that are in the programme, indoor and outdoor nets, a pristine outfield, large sightscreens and an electronic scoreboard.
If this initiative could be repeated in all the provinces, imagine the talent that could be unearthed and, as CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat pointed out, the rural areas have also produced legends such as Dale Steyn and Lance Klusener.
But the one characteristic that most rural areas in this country share is that they are poor and the Eastern Cape is particularly hard up, judging by the condition of some of the roads and abandoned factories. But nevertheless they are rightfully proud of their history and what they have produced, including numerous great leaders starting with Madiba and Oliver Tambo.
“The University of Fort Hare has a rich history and people know about it without knowing where Alice is! A former ICC head, Ray Mali, comes from here, as do two former ministers of sport, Ngconde Balfour and Makhenkosi Stofile. There are also famous schools like Lovedale and Healdtown here.

“It’s a tower of knowledge but people in the Eastern Cape are so poor that they don’t benefit. But they’ve built a beautiful facility here where African cricket was first played,” Border president Thando Ganda said.

“We’re very humbled that CSA are using Fort Hare as a venue. We’re often second-best in Border but an academy like this, with its unified approach, is something different and we’re sure cricketers from here will now come out on top,” Noel Knicklebein, the university’s deputy registrar said.

The likes of Queen’s, Dale, Selborne and Hudson Park have a close relationship with the academy and boys placed in those schools have regularly made provincial teams. Two girls from the programme have gone on to represent the Proteas Women and eight other students have successfully completed their varsity degrees.

The hills of the Eastern Cape have once again started to provide memorable talent.

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    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

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