iMfolozi Mapping Exercise
                         16 - 19 June 2005                                        by Mike Lauterbach

After our successful mapping of the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Donald Pittendrigh organised a meeting with the iMfolozi Game Reserve manager, Craig Reid.  During this meeting, Craig explained what needed to be mapped, and drew in the new tracks and roads on a reduced map copy of the park.

This is where our work began.  These tracks and roads were then divided into 5 routes, as we would be able to send 5 teams out on each day of mapping.  Each route was between 100 and 120km long, guaranteeing very long mapping days, as the average speed was estimated at less than 17km/hr, from our experience gained from the Hluhluwe mapping exercise.

Maps with these routes superimposed on 1:50000 SG maps were then compiled, and Keith Richardson printed these out and laminated them in A3 format.

Most arrived on Wednesday, late afternoon, to set up camp in the allocated Masinda camp area.  That evening, we finalised the teams, and handed out the tasks and maps.  The other members joined us early Thursday morning.






 The first day proved to be a very long day, especially for the team who mapped the southern boundary region as all side tracks, and guard camps had to be accurately mapped, and noted on the waypoint sheets.



After downloading all data from the GPSrs that evening, we found that most routes had been covered.  The teams were reassigned new routes for Friday, pointing out missing track sections, and special mapping requests.  These routes were then to be driven in the opposite direction, for quality purposes.





That evening,  after downloading all GPSr data again, the total driven tracks were superimposed onto the original routes.  Wherever the original coloured routes were not covered by the driven black track logs, indicated either missed tracks, or inaccuracies in the original routes.  It was found that only one track section had not been driven and mapped, and only because one local section ranger insisted that the route was closed and should not be driven. 

Confirmation that evening from Craig ensured that this route should be mapped, which Keith mapped on Saturday.  He needed to approach it from both directions though, as he was blocked by a donga from the west, and a fallen tree from the opposite direction.  These two obstacles were with in sight of each other, and in a straight line, and as such instructions were passed on to Wouter to fill in the missing link.

Saturday was dedicated to the above missing link, and other areas where we needed more tracks for accuracy. 

Sunday turned out to be a "free" day, as everything had been mapped and way-pointed.

As the iMfolozi Park was organising their first wilderness mountain cycle race later in July, we were asked if we could compile a map with an added cross section showing the elevation of the race.  I compiled "rough" map using Ozi, and they were happy enough with it to include it in their race brochure.

I then collated all waypoints into one set, making sure that all details were correct.  What helped a lot was that some of the members typed up the waypoint descriptions from their handwritten notes, and minimal deciphering of "hand scrawls" was needed.

All (active) track logs from the GPSrs and data loggers, together with the waypoint descriptions, were then sent off to Wouter Brand at Tracks For Africa (T4A).  He processed this data in no time, and even compiled a map which can be uploaded onto map-capable GPSrs (shown on the right in MapSource, and below right on a GPSMAP276C)!

Due to the number of GPSrs used, and good hardware, which included external antennas and data loggers, very accurate GIS data was compiled (see the stats below).

We were able to hand over a printed map, GIS data in the form of shape files, and the "MapSource Park map", complete with contours.  Needless to say, the park management was highly impressed by this data.


Following are the statistics for the mapping weekend:

No of people

26 on Thursday, and 37 on Saturday

No of vehicles

13 on Thursday, and 15 on Saturday

Distance traveled

3,300km in the park, 10,600km in total

Ave typical speeds


Logging equipment

13 GPSrs min and 4 data loggers

No of track points

214,719 in the park


99.745% of breadcrumbs fall within a 2.5m radius buffer zone


 GPSrs equipment used:

2 x Garmin GPS-V
3 x GPSMAP76
1 x Etrex Vista
1 x StreetPilot III (no ext antenna)
1 x Magellan
4 x Data Loggers





 This mapping exercise went very smoothly indeed, having learnt a lot from our previous mapping exercise of the Hluhluwe Game Reserve.  We have developed a very good working model starting with the planning of mapping routes, the actual mapping exercise, and the processing of data.  The Ecotracs and T4A guys can be proud of this achievement!


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