MISSION 26 of 2010
Name of Mission: Kruger Park Aerial Census 2010
Date of Mission: 11 to 25 July 2010
Aircraft used: Cessna 206
Pilot: Raymond Steyn
Objective of Flight
A fixed wing census of the entire Kruger National Park
Beneficiary’s story of the mission: By RAYMOND STEYN
The aerial census for the Kruger Park in 2010 is not strictly a Bateleurs mission – but because it was flown by a longstanding Bateleurs pilot member, and because it is an interesting flying conservation story, we have included it in our newsletter for the Third Quarter of 2010.
KRUGER PARK AERIAL CENSUS : July 2010
By Bateleurs pilot member Raymond Steyn
The aerial census for the Kruger Park in 2010 is not a true Bateleurs mission – but because the original flight request was directed to The Bateleurs and they routed it to me, and because I have long been a pilot member of The Bateleurs and I used our own aircraft to assist SANParks with the census, I suggested that The Bateleurs add the story of the census to a newsletter in 2010.At the outset I need to place on record that SANParks pays a fee for the pilot hire, i.e. for my services.
In 2008 there was a request from Grant Knight, the Chief Pilot at SANParks, to The Bateleurs, asking them to recommend a pilot who could assist with their annual fixed wing census of the Kruger National Park. The late Nora Kreher recommended that I be approached because I had been involved with census flying for the last fifteen years, and I was originally trained by Dr Salmon Joubert of SANParks. Accordingly, I was contracted to do the flying for the Kruger Park census in 2008, which was successfully completed in July 2008.I was approached again this year to assist SANParks with the 2010 aerial census, which was started on 11th July 2010. The census began with me using the SANParks aircraft until we had a technical problem with it, on the second day, and had to stop flying until it could be repaired. In the interest of keeping the census going I volunteered the use of our Cessna 206 which was supplied to SANParks free of charge, with SANParks supplying the fuel. The census is conducted by flying pre-determined transects, starting in the north of the Kruger Park and ending in the south. The transects are relatively far apart and there is a statistical element involved. The census team consisted of eight people: one pilot and 5 observers, plus two very important ground crew who assisted with getting fuel to various locations and who tried as much as possible to eliminate ferry time.
This year we flew from 11th to 24th July with only a few days off due to weather and a bit of administration. In total we flew for 48 hours and covered a distance of 8,539 kms – a distance that would have taken us from Johannesburg to Barcelona (Spain) – and all at approximately 250 ft above the ground! Some days we were airborne for seven hours straight, save for refuelling.