Top defence environment awards for “live” bases


Three top Department of Defence (DoD) environmental awards have gone to SANDF bases that have proven that military activities, including the use of live ammunition, can be carried out without inflicting serious damage to the environment.

The SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) at Lohatla in the Northern Cape scooped the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) floating trophy for ecological management, while AFB Overberg in the Western Cape won a pair of awards.

In addition to taking home the SANParks floating trophy for military integrated environmental management, Overberg also has bragging rights for the coming year as the owner of the Keep eThekwini Beautiful floating trophy for integrated waste management.

Both these bases are extensively used for training purposes, with CTC regularly the scene of live firing exercises with rifles, mortars, artillery and other weapons mounted on vehicles like the Ratel, Rooikat and Olifant main battle tank. SA Air Force (SAAF) assets including the Rooivalk combat support helicopter and Hawk Lead-In Fighter Trainer strafe parts of the CTC terrain with rockets and cannons as well.

At AFB Overberg, missile and rocket testing from a variety of aerial platforms, local and foreign, happens on a regular basis and the fact that the base is home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Cape vultures in South Africa bears testimony to the success of its integrated management plan.

The Pienaars River training area, north of Pretoria, was a runner-up in the ecological management section of this year’s awards. It is used by both the SAAF and the Army and is home to a large number of wildlife and bird species including scimitar-horned sable antelope. SAS Saldanha, the SA Navy training base on the west coast, was the third runner-up.

The environmental team at AFB Hoedspruit in Limpopo won the Conservamus trophy for environmental services in the DoD. This base has repeatedly walked off with top awards for its wildlife management plan and is home to both cheetah (employed to keep warthog numbers in check as these pose a threat to aircraft on runways) and rhino. Earlier this year the Hoedspruit team did rhino horn marking on its own and neighbouring properties’ animals to make them less attractive to poachers.

Runners-up for the Conservamus trophy were the environmental team from 5 Special Forces Regiment at Phalaborwa and the AFB Waterkloof environmental team.

AFB Langebaanweg was adjudged the best base/unit in the country for improving environmental awareness and educating not only members but also people in the vicinity about the need to care for the environment. It will hold the Professor Christo Pienaar floating trophy for the current financial year. The CTC and AFB Waterkloof were runners-up for this award.