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The Reserve

The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) is one of the largest privately owned nature reserves in South Africa covering some 60 000 hectares and is part of the greater Kruger National Park.. It is an entirely non-government organization involved in the full spectrum of Nature Conservation.

The KPNR was established in 1969 and was officially proclaimed a nature reserve in 1972 with Jan de Necker as the founding chairman and Van Reenen Van Vuuren as the first warden. The reserve is run by an executive committee comprising members or landowners who are elected at the AGM and operate through the reserves warden Colin Rowles. Colin circulates a monthly report to all the members keeping them informed of the weather, the condition and status of the fauna and flora and any other matter of general interest.

The KPNR is a member of the Association of Private Nature Reserves(APNR), a cooperative organization established to coordinate the interests of its members and to act as a single body in interacting with government entities. The association comprises Klaserie, Timbavati, The Umbabat and Balule.

We are deeply committed to the non-profit organization Eco Children (formerly Children’s Eco Children) which is in an initiative of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. Eco Children has been very successful in interacting with the children of the local community from a hands-on conservation education perspective and through a ‘whole school development’ approach. Eco Children has a specific focus on the environment and on education, and the significance and importance of both to our lives and the future of our country.

www.ecochildren.co.za

We host The Ground Hornbill Project which is sponsored by The Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology and directed by Professor Phil Hockey. There are two other research projects within the APNR. The elephant research project operating under the umbrella of "Save the Elephants" founded by Dr Ian Douglas Hamilton and the "Tembo" project currently studying buffalo. This is one of the projects hosted by the Resource Ecology group of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands

There are various commercial operations within the KPNR ranging from rustic bush camps and walking trails to luxury game lodges. It is the Reserves policy to keep the commercial and thus human impact to a minimum as it is our mission to make the KPNR as near a pristine environment as possible.

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Land of Serendip

The meaning of Serendip is given as: "the art of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought after"

No other description could fit this our special bit of Eden. It has some special mysterious magic which captures and holds one forever. Its a land of mystery and unexpected surprises. Wildlife, gigantic to minute - each so enthralling and holding so many secrets still unsolved by Man - each fulfilling its particular role in the chain of life.

Who has not stood spellbound watching an elephant herd, so intelligent, so caring of one another. Adapting the pace of their feeding pattern to the pace of a mother with a newly born babe, helping a youngster up a steep incline! Trunks held up - catching messages on the breeze and as one, moving on. Then, there are the ‘Beautiful Uglies’, he rhino and the hippo. A herd of buffalo, heavily horned, mean eyed, away in a cloud of dust. Striped beauties - the zebra.

Antelopes, large and small, all swift and beautiful. Wildebeest, quaint ‘rocking-horses’ of the veld. And our stately mannequins - the giraffe. Warthogs with upturned tusks and tails like radio aerials. Always good for a laugh. Our cousins the baboons, a source of amusement and rage when they visit and destroy.

Rollers ‘rolling’, flashing their jewel-like feathers in a breathtaking display. Plovers, calling, running, dive-bombing. And within yourself a wild inner surging response to the call of the fish eagle. A sunset song from a choir of long tailed shrike, heavenly!

The humble dung beetle, frantically collecting dung and rolling it away - who knows where? One seen emerging through a hole in the intestine of a giraffe killed by a lion, resting his ‘elbows’ on the rim, then carefully running his ‘hand’ under his nose as though saying “Whew!”

The magic of the Lowveld night - the clear star-filled night and a Silence - yes, a Silence filled with a myriad of small night noises of insects. The swooping flight of bats and then the silences temporarily broken by the call of a nightjar - or the reverberating roar of a lion. Jackals and hyena call and answer. The bush comes alight with myriads of fireflies weaving and dancing. Be there when the first rains fall - overnight the desert blooms like a rose - grass, leaves, flowers and carpets of velvety moss pop out all over. Birds sing, beetles shrill and frogs join in with the great thanksgiving song! And Man? God gave him the Earth and dominion over all creatures therein and sadly, he has betrayed his trust.

"God will ask thee thy race
Nor thy birth,
All the he will ask of thee-
What has though done with the
Land I Gave thee?"

Contributed by Mary Crookes

History

In 1969 three farmers shared the idea of combining all individually owned farmland along the Klaserie river. The idea was to form a single, Private Nature Reserve in an effort to conserve the natural state of the area. With farm owners on-board and boundaries set, KPNR was officially proclaimed a nature reserve in 1972.

 

 

 

1923

W A (Wac) Campbell, the patriarch of Natal Sugar Estates, and a foundation member of the newly constituted National Parks Board, bout Mala Mala, Eyrefield and Marthly in this reserve, and subsequently acquired several other adjacent farms.

[During the early thirties almost all the farms in the 'Toulon Block' (Sabi Sand), as well as several other in the neighbourhood, were purchased by private individuals.]

1935

The Game Ordinance was founded

1945

The Game Ordinance provided for the control of many aspects of wildlife, but the continued development of the province, coupled with modern methods of transport and hunting, increased the danger of over hunting and the ordinance soon became obsolete. A thorough investigation was then carried out by a commission of inquiry, into general game preservation.

 

1954

When the Transvaal Game Ordinance (No 23 of 1949) was changed, people were allowed to form private reserves under certain conditions, and Mostert proposed that the property owners form a mutual game reserve. Col J D Pretorius was extremely enthusiastic and went from farm to farm discussing the proposal with the property owners. It was due to his enthusiasm and work that the 'Umbabat Private Nature Reserve', named after the Umbabat River, became a reality. When the river was later given its original Xitsonga name 'Timbavati', form 'ku bava', meaning 'bitter or brackish water', the name of the reserve was changed accordingly.

1956

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve was proclaimed in terms of the 1949 Game Ordinance. The first committee consisted of Oswald Pirow KC, chairman, Col J D Pretorius, Dr Pierre A Hugo, Dr AA Shoch and J A McCall-Peat as the secretary. Paul Sauer, Minister of Lands, was honorary President, and Dr R Bigalke, then the Director of the National Zoo in Pretoria, was vice President, Dr T J Steyn, Director of Nature Conservation and N G Gilfillan, President for the Protection of Wildlife in South Africa, were chosen as honorary members.

The Crookes family joined Timbavati as full members, being persuaded by Freddie Gillatt to do so, The AGMs used to be held at Ernest Whittingstall's house at Klaserie.

Timbavati appointed a warden, Ted Whitfield, who used to come over once a month to Klaserie to see how things were getting on. Timbavati was initially not fenced, and there was big block of land between Klaserie and TImbavati that was not included. This land was utilised for cattle and agricultural activities and later became Umbabat.

 

1961

The Kruger National Park started to fence their western boundary.

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve was also fenced.

 

Saloman Joubert (left), Executive Director of the Kruger National Park, addresses guests before fence cutting.

 

Saloman Joubert (left), Executive Director of the Kruger National Park, addresses guests before fence cutting. Awaiting their turn to cut the fence are: Mr S Nxumalo, Chief Minister of Gazankulu; Mr Dolf Bynhardt, involved in the erection of the fence in 1962; Dr Robbie Robinsin, Chief Executive Director of the national Parks Board; Japie van Wyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs; Danie Hough, the Administrator of the Transvaal and Mike Rattray, representing the private reserve owners. Photo: Andre Esterhuysen.

 

anie Hough, Administrator of the Transvaal, cuts through part of the fence.

 

Danie Hough, Administrator of the Transvaal, cuts through part of the fence, which broke the annual migration pattern of Zebra and Wildebeest.

 

Jan de Necker, First chairman of Klaserie Nature 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.

 

 Ivan Gillatt, Second chairman of Klaserie Nature Reserve

 

The second chairman was Ivan Gillatt (1974 – 1976), centre, Followed by Paul Mouton (1977 – 1988), centre below, and then by Cann du Preez since 1988, left above and right below. Erwin Leibnitz, left below, has been Warden of the Reserve since 1975 to present.

 

1969

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.

 

Othmar and Irene Bach

 

Othmar and Irene Bach

 

Jan de Necker, at the first chairman at the exploratory meeting of owners in 1969

 

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.

 

1971

Due to the drought of 1971 the Klaserie River was dry and water had to be obtained from boreholes. The game started moving northwards towards the Olifants River where large concentrations of impala, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest gathered. With the first spring rains that the game returned to Dundee, Northumberland and Northampton. There was also an increase in the elephant population, estimated at approximately 150 animals, and three major breeding herds of buffalo, which moved up and down the Klaserie River.

The Shanatseni-Klaseriemond road was repaired and it was a first class motorway that could be driven at speeds exceeding 50 kph. Unfortunately the untimely death of Charles Engelhard had the effect of preventing the completion of the Klaserie-Copenhagen road (main entrance road), known as the 'Engelhard Boulevard', which had been badly washed away after 125mm of rain fall during October.

 

 Dr Eddie Young, with raised hand, suggested in 1976 that the Klaserie Reserve be made available as a Cheetah sanctuary.

 

The Late Dr Eddie Young, with raised hand, suggested in 1976 that the Klaserie Reserve be made available as a Cheetah sanctuary. Cheetahs from SWA (Namibia) were translocated to Klaserie as well as problem Cheetah from the Soutpansberg. Nature Conservation, however, indicated that the boundary fence have to be made Elephant proof as well as Cheetah proof. The Reserve could not finance a venture of this nature and the Cheetah sanctuary was shelved.

 

Ossie Doyer Trophy in 1976

 

The late Ossie Doyer who donated the Ossie Doyer Trophy in 1976 to be awarded annually to any private individual who contributed to the advancement of nature conservation.

 

1979

 

Executive Committee 1979

 

Front (ltr): T C B Crookes, D du Preez, P Mouton (Chairman), I Gillatt and C Weavind. Back: Dr L Hansmeyer, H Hattingh, E Leibnitz (Warden), Dr B Kruger and N Botha.

 

1926

Kruger National Park was proclaimed and so began conservation awareness.

The portion lying to the west of the Park, between the Sabie River in the south and the Oliphant's River in the north, was the first area where the concept of private nature reserves was born.

Charles Boyed Varty and Frank A Unger, both ardent sportsmen and true lovers of wildlife, purchased the farm Sparta, in the present Sabi Sand Wildtuin, and thus pioneered the 'game farm' idea in this area.

A M Mostert begins a concession to take overseas tourists into the Kruger National Park that would last to 1937.

 

1934

Some of the owners , in search for a scheme of co-operative game protection, took their problem to the Transvaal Land Owners Association (TLOA) which had many functions, including the administration of unoccupied agricultural and game farms for individuals or groups.

 

1936

As a result of his love and appreciation of wildlife, Mostert began to look for game farms bordering onto the Park and in July, using pack donkeys, went over the farms Nederland, Peru, Ceylon, and Rothsay, eventually deciding to buy Nederland, at five shillings per morgen.

Due to no access raid to the farm, Mostert built a road from the Acornhoek-Orpen road to Nederland. The Klaserie River had to be avoided as it was perennial and carried more water than it does today. He maintained this road for eighteen years.

 

1947

The Division of Nature Conservation was established.

1955

The road to Roodekrantz was constructed and Mostert brought tourists to Nederland, offering them drives at night and wilderness trails over the farm by day. Mostert bought portions of the farms Peru and Ceylon and so his idea of a private nature reserve was created.

The Kruger National Park decided, in principle, to fence the western boundary of the Park as a measure against the future spread of foot and mouth disease. The veterinary department asked for the fence and also wanted to eliminate all game outside the Park. This was bound to affect the game position and no one really knew what the overall result in the long term would be.

Oswald Pirow called a meeting about the fencing of the Kruger National Park. The meeting was held on the football field at Acornhoek and a huge crowd attended. He pointed out that at as individuals they would get nowhere, but as a group they would be a force to be listened to. After representations were made to the Government, the fencing was temporarily shelved.

 

1957

Pirow passed away and the question of fencing off the Park reared its head again.

A Commission of Enquiry, known as the Diesel Commission, for the protection of the country's borders against Foot and Mouth disease, was Dr A M Diesel (Chairman), A E de Villiers, M C Elloff and F G H van der Veen (representing the South African Agricultural Union), R Knobel and R J Labuschagne (representing the National Parks Board), J S Murray (representing the Department of Bantu Affairs and Development), Dr J H Viljoen (representing SWA), Dr M C Lambrechts (REPRESENTING THE Department of Agricultural Technical Services). L R Huystek (of the Meat Board), acted as secretary.

The Commission recommended that a game-proof fence be erected round the entire Kruger National Park and along the Swaziland border, Mozambique and the northern territories. Dr Pierre Hugo, of Timbavati, did not agree. He approached the minister who agreed that there would be no fence. When he walked out, however, the Vets walked in and the fence went up. TImbavati then realised that they too would have to fence.

Klaserie was unable to participate and forced to withdraw.

 

1962

The land faced a drought and the Timbavati fence had a devastating effect on wildlife. For centuries large herds of wildebeest and zebra migrated to the west and returned after the first spring rains. With the erection of this fence the animals were prevented from following their usual migratory routes and thousands dies of thirst and hunger next to the fence.
A few years elapsed before the concept of a private nature reserve for the Klaserie area was raided again. Paul Mouton and Daan du Preez each bought portions of the farm Fife and influenced their friend Jan de Necker to purchase a portion of the farm Charloscar. Cattle farmers were still very active on Charloscar and Moscow and they got their mutual friends, Stoffel Botha, who became Administrator of Natal and later Minister of Internal Affairs and of Post and Telegraphs, and Wynand Lindeque, to buy out these farmers.

 

1970

From six applications, Van Reenen van Vuuren was appointed the first game ranger of the KPNR and took up his post of 1 March 1970, at a basic salary of R 200 per month. Othmar Bach provided camp accommodation for the ranger and his family on the farm Dundee. The final tender of H Jacks Gate and Wire Works (Pty) Ltd, was accepted for fencing the reserve at R750 per mile plus R800 for transportation of the material to site The quotation of R98 per mile for clearing a road, 10 feet wide, in the inside of the boundary fence, submitted by Nanteskor (Pty) Ltd, was accepted. There were five entrance gates: (1) At the junction of the road from Hoedspruit and the Copenhagen boundary (Xipalapaleni), (2) at the south-western corner on the farm Sark (Xikankaneni) – now locked, (3) the gate on the farm Kent (Matamani) – now closed, (4) on the southern boundary of Charloscar, near the Klaserie River (Incheni), and (5) at the junction of the boundaries of Ross and Fife (Xanatseni).

Poachers were still very active when the KPNR was formed and the warden's first diary entry was the case against three men who entered the reserve illegally to hunt. They shot three impala and a kudu and left the entrails under a tree. The tyre marks of the vehicle were followed to the Copenhagen (Xipalapaleni) gate. Along the way they stopped to continue their hunt and some 22 Hornet cartridges were found. At the gate the register was completed by 'De Wet' and two companions who kindly left a message: 'Mooi so, hou so aan dan is ons miskien more nog vriende" (Good, keep on like this and perhaps we will still be friends tomorrow). The registration of the vehicle was incorrectly recorded, but Jack, the gate watchman, recorded the correct registration number. The matter was reported to Erasmus, Nature Conservation Official at Hoedspruit. On investigation it was found that the vehicle, registered at Germiston, did not exist, but a week later two of the poachers (Theron and Basson) were arrested in Germiston. They were trailed at Hoedspruit for poaching 23 impala, 1 giraffe, 1 kudu and 1 wildebeest. They were fined R500, with a further R200 suspended and their 1966 Ford vehicle and their guns confiscated. Initially poaching was rife, but after a number of arrests, convictions and education, incidences have dropped, but never to be eradicated altogether.

The first annual general meeting was held on 11 July 1970 at Hoedspruit, attended by some 32 landowners. The fence was not completed and for this reason the Reserve could not be proclaimed.

1977

 

The endangered Wildlife Trust financed an elephant-marking programme.

 

The endangered Wildlife Trust financed an elephant-marking programme in 1977 and conducted in conjunction with the Department of Nature Conservation and the University of Pretoria. Five elephants were marked in order to study their movements, social behaviour and the impact these animals have on the area.

1992

 

Jenny and Erwin Leibnits, Nature Conservationist of the Year and award

 

Jenny and Erwin Leibnitz. In 1992 Erwin was elected Nature Conservationist of the Year and awarded the Ossie Doyer Trophy. This award was made for his active participation and involvement in conservation and in the community. The award was attended by one of the reserves elephants (in background). In 1993 he was awarded the Game Rangers Association of Africa award of Excellence.

 

1904

Percy Wood ('Pump') Willis (1876-1959) was the first to settle permanently in the Bushbuckridge and Acornhoek area. He got his nickname while serving with the famous 'Steinaecker's Horse' during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) at Sabi Bridge. One of his tasks was to operate the pump delivering water to the Barracks and for this duty he was rewarded with the nickname 'Pump' which stuck forever after. Other members of 'Steinaecker's Horse' who became well known in the Lowveld, were John Edmund Delacoer Travers, Nevelle Edwardes and Harry Wolhuter. At the conclusion of hostilities 'Pump' and his brother went into storekeeping together at Bushbuckridge and Acornhoek

John Edmund Delacoer Trvers (1876-1954) also moved to the Bushbuckridge-Acornhoek area and bought the farm Champagne, 8mm south of Acornhoek and 16km north of Bushbuckridge.

1917

After the Anglo-Boer War Col. Baron Ludwig Franz (Francis) von Steinaecker's (1854-1917), the commander of the famous 'Steinaecker's Horse', first tried to obtain a permanent commission in the British armed forces, but was refused. He then tried tobacco farming on the farm London, just north-west of Bushbuckridge, but when this failed he moved in with Griffith’s, the Native Commissioner at Bushbuckridge. After a while Griffith's wife gave him an ultimatum to choose between her and Steinaecker's. John Travers extended hospitality to him until the First World War.
As the war progressed Steinaecker's became aggressive and said that Germany would win the war. Travers eventually gave him notice to leave, but when he refused the Police were called in. When they arrived, on 30 April, Steinaecker's took strychnine and died at the age of sixty three.

During all this time 'Pump' was also playing his part in a wider field. After a life-time of hunting, he left his rifle in favour of a camera, eventually to become one of the best known wildlife photographers in South Africa. Some of his photographs are published in Stevenson-Hamilton's book: South African Eden. He also became a valued honorary Game Ranger, and his opinions on wildlife were greatly respected. He also was able to use his pen in support of Stevenson-Hamilton against the many detractors of fauna and flora preservation, whose attacks never ceased until the Sanctuary was finally declared a National Park in 1926. Soon after the Kruger National Park was proclaimed Harry Otto, who was then manager of Two Streams Creamery at Ixopo in Natal, visited the Kruger Park where he met 'Pump Willis.

1927

The death of Thomas Andrews, resulting in the estate being distributed amongst the sons, and Alan Andrews obtained Kent.

1936

George, John and Edwin Crookes visited the Bushveld to inspect the farms and stayed with Willis. As a result of this trip, Northampton was purchased from Whittingstall and Willis by George and John Crookes jointly.

1939

Alan Andrews sold Kent to John Crookes.

As Andrews had cattle on Kent, there was a big cattle kraal. The kraal manure was feet deep and was sold during the war for war funds.

1948

By now the Crookes had two camps, the one on Johns Farms and named Northampton and the other on George's property named Dover.

George Crookes passed away and left Northumberland to Vernon Crookes, Charles Crookes, Freddie Gillatt and Edwin Crookes. The four took it in turns to use Dover camp. Vernon went up frequently to hunt trophies - but when Charles made the trip it was to make the most of nature.

Willis, the main one looking after this area, in former years had placed spikes in the access road to deter poachers, they were so placed that all four tyres of a vehicle would be punctured. At an early stage a gate was put on Kent and the keys were kept by Willis.

After Willis retired to Nelspruit, Whittingstall took over and each camp had 2 camp guards. Whittingstall owned the farm Fleur-le-Lys where he had a store and postal agency. This was basically the start of Klaserie village.

1914

'Pump' joined the 2nd Imperial Light House and saw action in South West Africa.

In a night attached against German forces at Gibeon, 'Pump' lost his right leg and won a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery. On his return to Acornhoek he and his brother expanded their interests by taking over two trading stores from HH L Hall & Sons in co-partnership with Ernest Whittingstall )(1884- 976), under the style or firm of "P W Willis & Co". On the farming side they extended their interests to include cattle, citrus, cotton and tobacco. Gradually through the years the partnership expanded until they owned 18, 000 morgen of land and had 16 trading stations (posts). Rand Consolidated Mining Company owned the rest of the area.
[In the early days 'Pump' Willis and Ernest Whittingstall had a donkey wagon, with two donkeys, and they used to go up and down the Klaserie. They used to hunt the whole area to the Olifants River and on ground belonging to the mining concerns. There was no one there, as it was just bare ground, and used to camp on the farms Dover and Northampton in the present Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.]

1925

Thomas Andrews (1856-1928), of Barberton, bought Kent, which was managed by his son Alan Andrews, growing grapefruit and raising cattle.

1929

Edwin Crookes and his son were members of a hunting party that went to the Bushveld to shoot wildebeest. Returning home they slept on the Acornhoek station platform where they met 'Pump 'Willis who was collecting parcels for his trading store.

Willis later went to stay with Harry Otto at Ixopo and also renewed his acquaintance with Edwin, who farmed in the High flats area close by. The meeting resulted in Edwin visiting Willis at Acornhoek. From there they travelled to Northampton in a donkey wagon. 'Pump' Willis approached Edwin and asked him if he knew of anyone who was interested in buying a shooting farm in the Lowveld. Edwin sad he was sure his cousins would be very interested.

1938

The Bushveld farms had nothing on them and in this year the Crookes built a simple hunting camp – three rondavels and a pit toilet with hessian around it. It was close to the river, which they used for washing and bathing.

George and John Crookes began taking hunting parties to Klaserie and the first official hunting trip took place.

So impressed with the area were George and John, that seven more farms were bought – George bought Dover, Northumberland, Dundee and London, while John (Having already bought out George's share of Northampton), bought Kent, Elgin and Cumberland.

 

The first camp on Northampton built in 1938.

 

The first camp on Northampton built in 1938. The site was selected by ‘Pump’ Willis, and was built under his and Whittingstall’s supervision, using mainly female labour.

1950

In August John Crookes sold Northampton to Freddie Gillatt (his nephew) with the proviso that a camp identical to that on Northampton, had to be built for John Crookes on Kent. The site, chosen by Collin Whittingstall and Freddie Gillatt, was on high ground with a spectacular view of the Klaserie River. Willis also choose a site for the building of Dover Camp. It was an ideal spot amongst the trees overlooking the Klaserie River, constructed by builders from the South Coast.

The building programme was completed in record time, however – because the builders were terrified of the wild animals! It subsequently transpired that the camp had been incorrectly sited, on Northumberland. In the early diagrams the river was placed diagrammatically and it wasn't plotted accurately. Northumberland has always been shown as having a corner of river frontage with the whole of the river running through Dover, but in fact it was the other way round. Actually the only bit of river frontage on Dover was the triangle on which the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve headquarters, Motlasedi, was later built.

 

Klaserie original logo

 

Original Klaserie Logo

 

Camp: R.J. Goss

 

Camp: Joe Smith

Blyde River Canyon with Marieskop (Mogologolo)

 

Blyde River Canyon with Marieskop (Mogologolo) in the back ground, where the big battle between the maPulana and the Swazi took place in 1864 and where the Swazi was annihilated. Photo: Satour