Sightings of the ‘Big Five’ on Jejane are becoming more frequent and ever more exciting - with this comes a level of congestion that we as Shareholders are unaccustomed to - especially those of us who remember the days when the Big Five were only on the ‘wish list’
Add to this an almost guaranteed minimum extra three traversing vehicles common at sightings, behaviour has a propensity to become self-serving.
We expect the utmost professionalism from the paid game rangers driving on the farm. It is important for shareholders and authorised users to repay the same courtesy. Please assist newer visitors to understand and apply these requirements.
At a recent MSNR meeting, the issue of Game Drive Protocol was raised by a JPNR representative – all members agreed to circulate a courteous reminder to Shareholders, Authorised Users and Commercial Operators of the protocols expected around sightings on Jejane PRIVATE Nature Reserve.
The Golden Rule – SPACE – Never enter the ‘comfort zone’ of the animal, every animal has a natural “flight or fight” zone, stay within the “flight” zone.
- Overcrowding at sightings: Once you have had a good view of the sighting, and assuming there are other Shareholders who have arrived subsequent to your arrival, move off after a reasonable time to give others the opportunity to experience the sighting from a decent vantage point.
- As a rule of thumb 5 (five) vehicles is the maximum of vehicles that should be around a sighting. This should be reduced to 3 (three) around ‘sensitive’ sighting as outlined below.
- It is the responsibility of the Shareholder, Authorised User, and Commercial Operator in control of the vehicle to assess the situation as well as the sensitivity of the sighting and thereafter hold back until the opportunity presents to move forward to a better position.
- Sensitivities Sightings: - e.g. a kill, cubs, rhino, wild dog, cheetah, elephant in musth etc.
Rhinos are sensitive animals, do not use spotlights on them at night.
When approaching an obvious sighting -
- Switch off unnecessary lights and spotlights
- Be quiet, The noise level on the vehicle is to be kept to a minimum for the benefit of the animals and other vehicles
- Switch off the vehicle once you have arrived at the sighting – a noisy engine only serves to disturb the peace and is highly irritating. If you are the most recent arrival on the scene and if your vehicle would overcrowd a particular vantage point, switch off your engine at the earliest opportunity, be patient, and await your turn for a better position.
- Position your vehicle so that others can move away if they wish.
- Do not move more than a vehicle width off the road.
- Consideration towards other viewers and the wildlife is the tenant of courtesy.
- Do not stand up in the vehicle or hang over the side of the vehicle whilst at sightings, this breaks the shape of the vehicle – it is imperative that this does not happen when viewing dangerous animals. Animals do not recognise the individual shapes within a vehicle, they see the basic outline as one form or shape. To protrude over the sides or stand up breaks the basic shape of the vehicle stressing the animals enough to influence behaviour change. Animals naturally fear humans, when you break the shape of the vehicle they feel threatened and behaviour can become defensive and/or aggressive.
- Spotlights: Do not shine spotlights in animals' eyes; (particularly impala, antelope etc.) shine on the ground in the front of or on the back of the animal. The use of coloured filters on spotlights is encouraged as this is less disruptive to the night vision of the animals and their activities. If more than one vehicle is on a night sighting it is unnecessary for all vehicles to shine a spotlight on an animal. One light is sufficient.
- Following Distance: When following predators which appear to be hunting, limit your intrusion so as not to interfere with the animals' hunt. This implies keeping a good distance, avoid shining unfiltered spotlights directly onto the scene. Keep all noise levels (including that of the engine), to a minimum.
- Escape Route: It is essential at any elephant sighting to have an escape route. Circumstances can change in a flash and elephants are highly mobile. Be extremely diligent around Elephant breeding herds - youngsters who are in “play/inquisitive” moods can often agitate the older cows and bulls who interpret the presence of a vehicle as a threat. Do not follow an animal whose behaviour is aggressive or if they are agitated. If you are unsure about the possible reaction or temperament of an animal, be cautious and remain at a safe distance. It is often sensible, once a sighting has been made, to observe the animal from a distance.
- Do not block the escape route of an animal you are viewing; or that of another vehicle, as the animal may become stressed and unpredictable. This is vitally important.
- Learn to anticipate the behaviour and movements of the animals and avoid forcing them to move if they are not inclined to.
- Drive around animal droppings and not through them to prevent killing dung beetles and other insects. There is a hive of hidden insect activity in animal dung, an integral part of ecology and nutrient cycling. Avoid driving over dung, irrespective of its age.
- When finding the road blocked by a tree having been pushed down, please return to a point where an alternative road can be used and then report the blockage to the Manager. By merely bundu-bashing around such a blockage we widen existing roads or create extra unwanted roads and unnecessarily destroy habitat.
- Tracker seats are not recommended - they can pose a serious threat to the occupier.
- Hides/Weir etc.: There is no rule on entering an occupied hide but common courtesy says one does not intrude on those already in occupancy. Drive past slowly and move on – unless of course you are invited to join fellow Shareholders and friends.
Please note that fines are not mutually exclusive and more than one fine can be levied as circumstances permit. In all cases, fines will double in the case of a second offence and, either double again for each subsequent offence, or at the discretion of the Board the offending party will be banned from the Reserve for a year. These rules do not contain an exhaustive list of possible offences and the Board reserves the right to impose an appropriate fine on any behaviour in breach of the normal code of conduct that is expected on the Reserve.