Media Release: Floods in Southern Kruger National Park
As a result of the heavy rainfalls recorded in the Southern Lowveld and Escarpment, the principal catchment area for the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers, extensive flooding occurred in the Southern Kruger Park.
In places more than 500mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours. The rain that started on Sunday, caused widespread flooding as well damage to infrastructure in the KNP.
All dirt roads in the area south of the Olifants River are closed. Access to the KNP is possible through the Malelane Gate where the N4, between Malelane and Nelspruit has been reopened. Although the Legogote road between White River and Numbi Gate is open to traffic, it is NOT a recommended route.
Orpen and Phalaborwa gates are open. The high level bridge over the Sabie River allowing access between North and South in the Park has been damaged and is closed for an undetermined period. Until road clearance operations have been finalised, the tar road along the Sabie River is also closed. All other tar roads are accessible.
In Skukuza the 3 rows of rondavels closest to the river were evacuated and extensive damage caused to the restaurant. Severe subsidence of the paved area between the restaurant and the river also occurred. The restaurant will only reopen in about 3 weeks. In the meantime, a temporary restaurant facility will be operational on the platform of the Selati Train area in the eastern corner of the rest camp. The shop became operative again on Tuesday afternoon.
The stand-by generators of the restcamp supply power although 4 mini-substations were switched off before being submerged. At Malelane gate, 28 poles carrying power cables have been washed away leaving this area with a major problem. There is no power or water at Crocodile Bridge Camp. Lower Sabie has no power or water, but emergency generators are on the way to supply power to the camp. Water purification is being restored. At Pretoriuskop there are power and water problems.
Purified water is being made available at Skukuza where more than 40 houses in the staff village were extensively damaged and flooded. These families are housed in the available empty houses or they are staying with friends.
Until acceptable service can be restored, no bookings for at least the next two weeks will be accepted for Skukuza, Lower Sabie and Pretoriuskop. It has also been decided that all wilderness trails for the next fortnight are to be cancelled. All affected parties will be informed individually.
It needs to be emphasised that all visitors and staff are safe and accounted for. Although there is a large degree of inconvenience experienced during the disaster, the management and staff of the KNP is doing everything humanly possible to restore services to the rest camps in as short a time as possible.
With bridges damaged and washed away and accessibility to the Southern KNP severely restricted, it would be advisable for prospective visitors to the KNP, to concentrate more on the central and northern section of the KNP. This will allow the recommissioning of service and infrastructure in the flooded area to commence and be completed as quickly as possible.
Although some carcasses of buffalo were spotted in the flood and some baboons were seen clinging to debris floating downstream, animals tend to instinctively move to higher ground in situations such as flooding. It is impossible to ascertain the extent of mortality amongst the animal population.
Dr Salifou Siddo
Head: Corporate Affairs
South African National Parks
Tel: (012) 343 9770; Fax: (012) 343 0153
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