A Warning to birders and potential visitors to Borakalalo National Park I have read a lot about the good birding at Borakalalo in North West.
On Friday 16 October I visited the Borakalalo National Park with a friend. We arrived at the Moretele camp about an hour before sunset. I could not wait to go birding. I saw the red-headed finches at the entrance gate and had heard the first Red-chested Cuckoo of the season.
Although the person at the entrance gate of the park said that there will be someone at Moretele camp helping us to find our tent, there was no one. Instead, we were welcomed by velvet monkeys running in and out of the tents. The camp was not in good shape. Tent zips were broken and my bed collapsed when I sat on it. Only one out of 3 braai/fire stands are useable. That did not bother us much and we had a fire going before dark. We decided to sleep early as we could not wait to start birding at 5h00 the next morning.
On the first afternoon the monkeys ransacked our neighbour’s tent and strew clothing and medicines all over the tent floor in search of food which were locked in their car. At 1h00 my vehicle’s alarm woke us up and I immediately knew there was something bad happening. I ran out with a spotlight to find my vehicle’s left front window smashed. Our neighbors from Potchefstroom were already up and then I realized that the robbers had burgled both vehicles at the same time.
What a nasty wakeup call!
The robbers took all our neighbour’s camera equipment including a Canon EOS5D,100-400 mm Canon lens, Manfrotto Tri-Pod and my friend’s Apple I-Pad. Fortunately they did not see my camera equipment and binoculars behind the seats. We had no choice but to stay up until dawn, when we packed up and went home.
With monkeys running all over the place and our vehicles with broken windows, it was senseless to stay longer. There was no way to securely close the tent. There was a lock to lock the three zips but no key. The flaps had wires attached to them for closing the tent.
On Saturday morning the car’s window was broken and the monkeys entered the car and threw all their bird books all over the place. The food was in the fridge. At this moment they also decided to cancel the rest of the weekend and go home. The water tap next to the tent was leaking and was tied down with wire! We could not use the tap.
It is not acceptable that there were no security guards or any staff of the park at Moretele camp. No one takes responsibility.
I phoned Mr RE Seutane (Elias), the Park Manager , but he informed me that Moretele Camp is managed by another group and referred me to Mrs Mmekwa who promised that she will send an email the next morning regarding the burglary. I received an email on Thursday stating that they are investigating the incident. I made numerous calls to Mrs Mmekwa and the admin office but they ignored my calls and messages to contact me.
The police at Jericho were very friendly and helpful. They told us that there are frequent incidents at Borakalalo.
Expectations of a great weekend left a very bad taste! I will not recommend anyone to visit Borakalalo. It is not safe and you will waste your time and money.
Please forward to all your contacts and social media platforms