In January Clyde Sussens contacted Jan de Necker and suggested that they consider a nature reserve on both sides o the Klaserie River, De Necker thought it a splendid idea and discussed this with Paul Mouton, Daan du Preez and the others.
Their first task was to approach the individual landowners personally to obtain their approval and support. But their initial problem was to contact the Crookes family who owned four farms along the Klaserie River.
The first meeting of 14 landowners was held on 28 January 1969 in Ransburg to discuss the formation of a game reserve. A committee was elected and consisted of Jan de Necker, chairman, B de West, secretary, P L Mouton, E A Roux, J W Beith, J T Muller and J C Sussens. It was decided that John Muller be supplied with all the relevant information to enable him to approach the Crookes family with a view to inviting them to join the group. Jon Muller was connected to the Crookes family through his brother-in-law marrying a Crookes. They were to be offered pro-rata terms, but these could be altered if they were not considered satisfactory.
The committee had to draw up a constitution that had to be presented to the owners of farms in the envisaged area and to arrange a further meeting of these owners when the constitution was to be submitted for their approval.
After establishing which landowners wanted to become members, they could set the boundary of the Reserve. They approached a fencing firm, H Jacks Gate and Wire Works (PTY) Ltd, in Johannesburg, for a quotation to fence off the approximately 48 miles in dense bush. As this firm had never had to undertake an assignment of this nature they were unable to quote. The only solution was to take the owner of the company's son, accompanied by Paul Mouton, Eddie Roux and Jan de Necker, to Klaserie.
They followed the boundary line where the fence was to be erected by Landrover, which took a week. [They made use of maps and where they could not use motorised transport they had to walk. They had to make camp in the bush at night and the usual night sounds proved to be quite a hair rising experience for the city man.] In spite of all the difficulties, the company gave a reasonable quote between R795 and R950 per mile, excluding the cost of clearing the terrain.
In preparation for the meeting to be held at Fort Coepieba Hotel, at Hoedspruit on the 12th of July, a budget was prepared, copies of the constitutions of Timbavati and Sabi Sand obtained, and attorneys instructed to draft a constitution, which was circulated before the meeting.
The meeting was attended by a large number of landowners, including a representative of the Crookes group. This was a very important meeting and Paul Mouton and Jan de Necker prepared themselves thoroughly. As was to be expected, some of the members were extremely sceptical, but proceedings were generally positive. After a long discussion Leonard proposed that the meeting should proceed with the formalities of founding the reserve and that the meeting should be regarded as the foundation meeting of an association of owners with the purpose of establishing the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. The proposal was seconded by Daan du Preez, and the motion was carried unanimously.
A meeting in Johannesburg then took place when Col. L G F Wolf proposed that the constitution be dealt with clause by clause. Messrs I F G Gillatt and Col. Wolf proposed amendments to certain clauses which J C G Botha undertook to have redrafted and ready for mailing by the middle of September.
The next, and crucial meeting, was held on Wednesday 8 October at the Boulevard Hotel in Pretoria. The morning before the Committee met to conclude certain last minute details regarding the proposed fencing, gates and the financing of the project. The same afternoon thirty-six owners attended and, after discussing the proposed constitutions, each owner had to verbally confirm that he wanted to become a member of the Reserve and accepted the constitution. Thus, the largest private nature reserve in South Africa was established.
The following owners were unanimously elected as members of the first Executive Committee: J D J de Necker, I F G Gillatt, T C B Crookes, J Ogilvie-Thompson, J T Muller, P L Mouton, J C G Botha, E A Roux, B de Wet ad I Z Lombard MPC. At a meeting of the newly elected Executive Committee, held on the same day at the Boulevard Hotel, J D J de Necker was unanimously elected chairman of the committee and I F G Gillatt the vice-chairman. P L Mouton was appointed secretary. It was then decided that they advertise for a game ranger and the members were requested to draw up a list of duties.
To start the functioning of the Reserve and the erection of the fence, a loan of R20 000 was obtained from the Standard Bank. Jan de Necker was personally the guarantor for the facilities which have been made available from the Standard Bank to the Reserve.
Jan de Necker, right, was the first chairman at the exploratory meeting of owners in 1969 and elected the first chairman when the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve was established on 8 October 1969. He resigned as chairman of the reserve in 1974, sold his ground in 1976, and was made honorary member of the Reserve in appreciation of his devoted services to the reserve.