Dune Mining for WESSA

Oct 1, 2011

MISSION  24 of  2011

Name of Mission: Dune Mining for WESSA         
Date of Mission: 1 October 2011   
Aircraft used: Foxbat A22
Pilot: Brett Hill     
Beneficiary: WILDLIFE &  ENVIRONMENTAL  SOCIETY  OF  SA  (WESSA)  

Objective of the Flight     

To survey pristine coastal dune forest near Port Durnford, proposed for open cast mining

Beneficiary’s story of the mission        By Paul Dutton, on behalf of WESSA        

All the necessary flight request and indemnity paper work had been completed for Ecologist Roddy Ward to be flown by Bateleurs ebullient aviator Brett Hill for an aerial survey of pristine coastal dune forest near Port Durnford, proposed for open cast mining. The sky was 8/8 blue on the day scheduled for the survey, but  Roddy’s croaky voice early that morning indicated that he was ill with incipient pneumonia. He asked if I could  take his place.

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Brett Hill was waiting for me at the Ballito airstrip, his Foxbat all fuelled and ready to fly.  

We flew four transects from Port Durnford to Richard’s Bay, over some of the most pristine coastal dune forest on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Heavy sand moving equipment was already at work removing ancient and specially protected red milkwood trees Mimusops caffra,  to reach the mineral sands. As far as we can ascertain no Environmental Impact Assessment had been carried out. Personnel working at the site managed to get our registration details as we circled above them and reported us to King Shaka airport’s control tower. To no avail – we have controller friends working there.

The images and data from our three-hour survey flight has been submitted by Roddy Ward to WESSA for action.

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