MISSION 6 OF 2010
Name of Mission: Caracals relocated from Limpopo to the Eastern Cape
Date of Mission: 7th March 2010
Aircraft used: KingAir
Beneficiaries: Nicci Wright and Peter Girdwood
Pilot: Ivan Marx and Hardus du Preez
Beneficiary’s story of the mission : By NICCI WRIGHT
Objective of Flight:
To move six adult caracal from Limpopo Province to the Eastern Cape Province for release
We met Bateleurs pilot Dr Ivan Marx and a co-pilot, Hardus du Preez at the Wonderboom Airport early on Sunday morning, 7 March.
An hour or so after leaving Wonderboom we landed smoothly at Hoedspruit Airport. Waiting for us on the landing strip was Mr Brian Jones, owner of Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre where the caracals had been in safe-keeping since their confiscation five months previously. Together with Brian’s staff we loaded the transport boxes into the KingAir plane.
We placed the boxes onto tarpaulins to prevent any marking of the plane’s interior carpeting, and covered the boxes with sheets to minimise visual stress for the animals.
After a short delay (due to my mis-measuring of a box!) we took off again. A couple of hours later, we landed at Bloemfontein Airport for re-fuelling, checking of the aircraft and a leg-stretch. Thecaracal were calm and quiet but aware of my every move, greeting me with a powerful hiss whenever I peered into a box to check on the occupant.
Flying over the Free State and Eastern Cape, we were struck by the extent of soil erosion visible from the air and also the flooding level of dams such as the Gariep.
About 3 hours after leaving Bloemfontein, we approached Port Elizabeth where we were to meet the last link in the chain of assistance offered to the caracals. We landed and were met by John who reversed his bakkie up to the plane for easy loading.
We unloaded the crates, taking care not to scrape the interior of the aircraft, and placed them on the tarmac alongside the vehicle to photograph and say goodbye to our lucky cargo.
Once the formalities were out of the way, John and the caracal left for the reserve which he would reach within an hour or so, leaving us to refuel again for the flight back to Wonderboom.Leaving Port Elizabeth Airport, we flew right out across the bay before climbing up to 25 000 feet and zooming home at just under 500kms p/h!
The mission was completed with a safe landing at Wonderboom Airport just after 6pm, after almost twelve hours of a busy and exhilarating day. The pilots were skilled and professional, the take-offs and landings smooth and faultless and … most important, the caracal were free by nightfall. This was a wonderful experience and it was a privilege to have shared it with The Bateleurs team. Thank you.