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Media Release: Water in Kruger safe to drink

Date: 2nd February 2009

The Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, announced today that there is no danger of tourists and staff contracting cholera from drinking water in the Kruger National Park (KNP) despite positive reports of cholera in the rivers.

The Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks), Dr David Mabunda, announced today that there is no danger of tourists and staff contracting cholera from drinking water in the Kruger National Park (KNP) despite positive reports of cholera in the rivers.

“We can safely say that our drinking water is safe from any bacteria that might lead to cholera as it is well treated before it reaches the water systems,” he said.

The test results, which were completed by an independent laboratory in Polokwane, showed that certain rivers in the KNP still have cholera. These rivers include the Crocodile River (tested near Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp), the Olifants River (tested near Balule Satellite Camp), the Shingwedzi River (tested near Shingwedzi Rest Camp) and the Luvuvhu River (tested near the high water bridge).

“Even although these tests were positive, they don’t hold any danger to anyone as the only way people can become infected is if they are exposed to this water and as you may not swim in any rivers in the park, the risk of infection is very low,” Dr Mabunda said.

According to the KNP’s General Practitioner, Dr Rossouw Ferreira (who is based in Skukuza), there are no confirmed cases of cholera in the KNP at present.

KNP veterinary surgeons and scientists also confirmed today that there is no risk to any animals, including marine life, as this particular strain of cholera is species specific and only affects humans.

“What is a cause for concern is the high amount of faecal coliforms found in all the rivers tested,” Dr Mabunda cautioned. The Crocodile, Sabie, Sand, Olifants, Letaba, Shingwedzi and Luvuvhu rivers all recorded high levels of this bacteria. All of the above-mentioned rivers flow through human settlements outside the park before they enter the park and it is suspected that the relevant bacteria infect the rivers before they enter the park.

Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) standards say that the samples tested “pose serious health risks” and infants and people who are HIV positive are most at risk.

As most of the above-mentioned rivers are flowing strongly due to good rains experienced over the last few days, there is a good chance that the risks will decrease as the river water is diluted.

“We will be testing again in two weeks time to check on the situation and it is hoped that these results will all be negative,” Dr Mabunda concluded.

Issued by:
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: raymondt@sanparks.org

Enquiries:
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: williamm@sanparks.org

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