Thank you so much for taking your time to write to us this kind of feedback and positive criticism as it helps us to improve on our service standard. As the park we value your valuable feedback. I agree with you that Mapungubwe is a unique and highly sensitive area and everything that we do should work towards accentuating that point. Regarding the pond, we as SANParks had the same view 3 years ago and stopped pumping water into the pond. We then experienced a lot of problems with animals especially elephants crossing the fence and destroying all water supply in the area looking for water.
They even crossed to the staff village and the neighbouring farms like Van Lemmer which created a lot of problems damaging our reputation and relationships with our neighbouring communities. At the moment we pump water 3-4 times during dry season. From October to May there is natural water and we don’t pump water to the pond. That is the only water supply in the area and serves as a birding and game viewing area as we don’t have many animals.
It is unfortunate that there were no toilets papers at the public facilities, rubbish and plastic bags were thrown around the area and rubbish bins overflowing. This was caused by uncontrolled school visits and the baboons in the area. We have started with environmental education to all the schools that visit Mapungubwe teaching them of the danger of pollution in the environment. We apologise unreservedly for the mess and we promise it won’t happen again.
Regarding the damage caused by elephants, we are in contact with the Zimbabwean authorities through the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTCA) to ensure that there is an alternative grazing area for the Zimbabwean cattle north of Maramani. We envisage this as a permanent solution to this problem. At the moment we have hired 8 environmental monitors or cattle chasers to keep the cattle outside the park. This has not been a fruitful exercise as they keep on chasing the cattle back and forth the whole day while other cattle are crossing on the other areas.
It is critical for us to keep the grass for animal grazing not cattle. We understand this is not good as people come to the park to see wild animals and would like to assure you that we are doing the best we can to win this battle and I can see that we are about to win it. We have purchase a vehicle for the environmental monitors for then to be effective in their jobs.
We have a team that is working five days a week maintaining the elephant’s exclusion fences in the park. During winter, herds of elephants move from Botswana to South Africa for greener pastures which contributes to the problems that we have with the fences. Due to the increase in the number of elephants in the park we start recording damages in the trees, overgrazing , lines of fallen trees in the western side etc. This can only be solved if the treaty between the three countries can be signed which will mean that there is enough areas for elephants to graze as we will increase the size of the park more especially in Zimbabwe.
We are trying to protect the gallery or riverine forest and baobab trees and many rear and special trees along the river banks by maintaining the elephant exclusions fences. The Trans frontier park will ensure that all those trees are protected from both angels.
It is a pleasure to hear that overall you did like the fact that the treetop walk and other tourism facilities are under renovations. Thank you for your continued loyalty and support to SANParks and we are looking forward to your future visits and will ensure that they are much more enjoyable.
Please feel free to contact us at any time. We really need people like you to succeed in conservation and cultural heritage.
Communications Manager: Northern Region
Tel: (012) 426-5304
Fax (012) 343-0153