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geocacher_coza

Drakensburg Caches

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Just come back from a weekend spent at the Royal Natal Park. We camped in the Mahia camp.

While having a nice braai after finding the "Platberg" cache the game warden of the camp approached me, asking me about the sticker on the back of my JEEP. Needless to say it was the Geocaching.com sticker. He wanted to know if I am involved in this "organization". He proceeded to tell me that his boss told him about these "things" on the mountain that needs removing because it is placed "illegally" in a World heritage site and also on some dangerous places.

My argument was that only one is on the KZN side! He tells me that the FreeState and KZN work together and all caches needs to be removed.

The bottom line is that the owners of the "offending" caches should remove them or contact the relevant authorities and get the caches approved in writing.

This situation above is a good example where the GASA organization could come in handy and where the specific guidelines for our regions should be published.

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I have been planning a major multi cache for the berg area!!!

 

Any idea who I get in touch with for permission?

 

Another approach is to place the caches on property not under the control of KZN Parks (with permission, of course), as there a large number of privately owned areas in and around the berg.

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I asked the warden to email me all the particulars of his boss so I can contact him.

I have placed two caches just outside the borders of the park with views of the berg.

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The guidlines for placing a cache on geocaching.com state that:

 

"Caches may be quickly archived if we see the following (which is not inclusive):

-Caches on land maintained by the U.S. National Park Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (National Wildlife Refuges) "

 

So, surely the same would go for the South African Parks Board? Doesn't cache traffic/activity impact on the animals some way?

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So, surely the same would go for the South African Parks Board? Doesn't cache traffic/activity impact on the animals some way?

Depends on placement.

 

No-one in his or her right mind would place caches in areas where there is a chance of running into wildlife.

 

The park or reserve management are happy to make suggestions regarding placement.

 

It's a shame really.

 

The last time I was up in the berg I found a cache in a beautiful spot. We did the cache thing, then spent two hours filling the back of the bakkie with bits of styrofoam from an abandoned cooler box, innuberable beer bottles, cool drink cans, chip packets and other garbage that had been tossed out of car windows with no regard for the wilderness area surrounding these 'nature lovers'!

 

The rubbish had nothing to do with caching either. The cache was a long way off the road. The rubbish was just the usual vehicle-cleansing that a lot of our local drivers are famous for.

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Why can the powers-that-be not rather work WITH cachers. It does, after all, lure people into the wild.

I couldn't agree more.

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Maybe now is the right time, from our side as cachers, to nominate one or more cachers, to engage in talks with the relevant authorities in order to get an agreement in writing to allow for placement of caches in the specific Nature areas.

 

I would suggest that we use KZN as a start and maybe learning curve/exercise.

 

We can then via the forum keep an eye on progress and add further comments and suggestion on the discussions with the authorities.

 

If it then fails, we may have learnt a valuable lesson on how to approach the next group/authority.

 

I don't want to pressure anyone, but my nomination goes for Azaruk <_< seeing that he is interested in placing a cache in the area, and is also one of the very active KZN cachers.

 

Any other nominations or cachers interested to take on this task?

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It is all well and good for us to be voting for people, but this topic worries me. And I was hoping that it would not come up for the next couple of years (especially since we are in South Africa <_< and off the beaten track….).

 

A while back I was trawling the news group, when I found this HOT HOT topic in the Canadian forums. http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=102901 and http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=96209 (I mean kryky the one topic is 6 pages long.). They have had endless uphill battle with the park authorities, trying to come to an agreement on caching in parks - have conducted research on the impact of caching on the environment. I hope that SA will see caching in a better light, because last time I looked them Canadians were fighting a loosing battle.

 

We, cachers, like to think that we have little impact on the environment, but I can recall many a time when QFC has found all rocks in a 5 m radius looked under and moved (and have helped with this ourselves... <_< ) We are all guilty of placing caches in parks, be them National Parks or Nature Reserves. Some of these are well of the paths, while others are better and closer to the paths.

 

We have had a fabulous year of cache hiding (planting more than 150 new caches), but maybe we need to take a deeper look at where our caches are being hidden and what their net effect on the environment and local neighbourhood is.

 

Caching has taken me to places that I would have never gone to and this is the point that needs to be put across to the authorities, while we look at the caches and see if the deserve to survive over the local environment.

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I am a semi-professional wildlife photographer with a conservationist streak a mile wide.

 

The environment is incredibly important to me and I will go out of my way to avoid damaging it.

 

That is why, for all my caches, the encrypted clue is very specific. The normal clues will also let the hunter know that the cache is hidden in a place that needs no digging, removal of rocks, etc to find.

 

I suggest that the clue system be used in a more detailed manner - not to show the hunter exactly where to look, but rather what not to do.

 

If we all continue to hide our caches intelligently - and I will say here that all the KZN caches I have found so far have been extremely well placed, the locations awesome and the damage to the environmet absolutely nil - then we won't cause damage.

 

I would be happy to represent geocaching South Africa with establishing communication with the relevant authorities, but before doing so, I suggest that, through the forum, we come up with a coherent plan of action, build up a set of convincing documented arguments for caching. I would like not only to talk to the authorities about this, but leave them with a well thought out and well presented document explaining geocaching completely.

 

If we get this first step completed I have hope that we will be able to put forward a convincing argument to the authorites that we would be in a partnership with them in attracting visitors to their reserve and wilderness areas. And that can't be a bad thing!

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