Skip to Content

Rivers of Life: Most utilised?

Discuss and find information on the Kruger National Park
User avatar
bert
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 17185
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:02 pm
Location: mind in SA, body in The Netherlands

Dry rivers

Unread postby bert » Mon Jun 20, 2005 8:26 pm

Hi,

I have never visited in the fall or winter but was quite shocked by the amount of water in the main rivers.

Is this normal. As it was the beginning of June there are still
3 dry months ahead.

Letaba in front of the restaurant was a mere stream with a few pools
Olifants from the view point a stream with some big and small pools
Shingwedzi nearly dry. Luckily some pools
Mphongolo and Luvuvhu a shallow river and luckily lots of pools

User avatar
Loams
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 864
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 8:48 am
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Unread postby Loams » Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:23 am

I am not sure it's because of it being dry. The vegetation is extremely dense and they have had good rain as far as I know. I remember reading that the damming up of rivers in and across our borders is a big culprit of Kruger's rivers being dry. There was an article in the Kruger park Times.
Operation "Duke" Member

Being African is not determined by race, but by what's in your heart

User avatar
KNP Spokesman
Guru
Guru
Posts: 476
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:18 am
Location: Skukuza

Dry Rivers

Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:50 pm

Dear Forum Members

Just a quick word on the state of the rivers and general state of the amount of water in the Kruger National Park.

South Africa is predominantly a dry country and has been for many hundreds, probably thousands of years. As such, the wildlife in all its facets has evolved and adapted to this.
Although rivers seem dry, there is actually quite a bit of natural water sources in Kruger which animals, insects, birds, plants etc have learnt over the years to find.

We have further found that by interfering in this process - by building dams and sinking boreholes - we have actually damaged the natural surroundings and are thus in a process to rectify this (I have placed an entire article on this subject on another thread) by closing the boreholes and by not building any more dams.

That said, weather experts (I can't spell climatologists, is that right???) have noticed that weather patterns follow cycles that are roughly 8 years long.
In Southern Africa, that means 8 dry years, followed by 8 wet years. Just to confuse me, there are wet and dry years in each of these cycles, but it all seems to balance itself out in the long run.
We are probably entering a dryish period and can probably expect a few empty rivers from now on.

I still find it fascinating that nature can adapt to these changing cycles all the time.

Don't worry too much about the dry riverbeds, particularly at this time of year, as it is pretty normal (taking the above-mentioned fluxes into consideration).

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Aug 30, 2005 1:07 pm

I visited Balule 2-3 weeks ago. It was the driest I have seen anything ever. Hippos were grunting and fighting the whole night as they battled to keep access of their beloved puddle. There are no grass whatsoever. Amazingly we saw some baby impala and ele's.
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:56 am

News24. Very sad indeed!

Hoedspruit - Hundreds of fish have died in the Olifants River about 15km from Olifants Camp in the Kruger National Park (KNP) as the river dried up.

Dr Thomas Gyedu-Ababio, the KNP's aquatic biodiversity conservation manager, said the fish are believed to have died from oxygen starvation.

Gyedu-Ababio found at least 500 dead fish on the banks of a pool in what remains of the Olifants River when he visited the site recently.

The 500 fish were what remained after birds had feasted on the dead fish, Gyedu-Ababio said. They were mostly catfish, yellowfish and tilapia.

Once the Olifants River was one of the largest continuously flowing rivers in South Africa, but at this time of year is reduced to a series of pools in Kruger, kept alive by water released from the Phalaborwa Barrage.

Balule Camp had no water on Monday as the Olifants' flow was so diminished.

Hippos are forced to congregate in the remaining pools of water. In the pool where the fish died, Gyedu-Ababio found almost 100 hippos in less than 500 metres.

In a reversal of their normal behaviour, Gyedu-Ababio said: "The hippos ran out of the water when they saw people," as there was not enough water in the pool to cover them.

Decomposition removes oxygen

The hippo have been living and defecating in the pools, producing an excessive quantity of dung that was now decomposing. The decomposition removes oxygen from the water, causing the fish to suffocate. Fish jumping out of the water in other pools was also a sign of oxygen shortage.

The Phalaborwa Barrage is required to release water for the ecological needs of the Olifants River, but also has to provide water for human use. Gyedu-Ababio said the flow out of the barrage for several days prior to the fish deaths was so low that the gauging weir in the park could not accurately measure it.

The barrage has very limited water storage, as almost 90% of the dam is occupied by silt. It is estimated that there is only enough water in the barrage when it is full for two to three days' water supply. In the dry season, the barrage relies on water releases from the Blyde Dam to boost the flow of the Olifants River.

Measurements of water flow at the gauging weir in the KNP show that the flow into the park is what it would be during drought conditions. The park has requested a higher flow from the barrage as the Olifants River was not reaching Balule Camp.

The silt in the barrage is to be the subject of an environmental study which went out to tender in February. The tender has yet to be awarded, the Lepelle Northern Water authority said.

The release of large volumes of silt-laden water from the barrage has previously caused fish deaths in the Olifants.

The silt is largely derived from soil erosion caused by poor agricultural practices further upstream in the Olifants River, in Sekhukhuneland.
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:18 am

W@H, In actual fact I have never seen so many different types of birds at some puddles.
At one puddle, more lower down than what this picture shows, there were yellow-billed storks, saddle-billed stork(juv.), green-backed heron, grey heron, little heron and black stork, presumably hunting fish.
Some even climbed on top of a hippo to get to the fish.
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 9:58 am

Only problem here is that the dryness is not nature controlled exactly as the Phalaborwa barage dam controls flow into the olfants. The Olifants used to be a strong flowing river a long time ago.
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
francoisd
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1937
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:38 pm

Unread postby francoisd » Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:39 am

wildtuinman wrote:That is why I am against the Mazzinger dam too.

I thought it was just said that the dam on our side is the result of the low water level in the Olifants??

As we are only allowing this small trickle of water through to Moz, and from the photo it does not seems as if the river is flowing at all, I think they have good reason to raise the level of the Mazzinger dam wall.

The same is happening to the Letaba river. Used to be much more water in it than the past 10 years or so. Dams keep water out of a river period. If the do not open the sluices no water is released into the river system. In the Letaba river inside Kruger there is already 3 dams, how many on the outside??

*where is my helmet?*
"The measure of life is not its duration but its donation." - Peter Marshall
www.flickr.com/groups/birdssa

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:02 am

From the gorge towards Moz the water is much deeper than in this photo.
Don't ask me why as I had not swim there before. :lol:

The Masingier dam might also have the opposite effect(not putting money on it till this coming Sunday's 50-50 program), flooding the Gorge. And it might even regulate the level of water in the Gorge, by maybe draining it, to the point that the Olifants might even get diluted of water altogether upstream in the region of Balule. :(

This whole idea sounds very suspect. :roll:
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
wildtuinman
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 5483
Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
Location: Chasing down the rarities

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:26 am

francoisd wrote:
wildtuinman wrote:by maybe draining it, to the point that the Olifants might even get diluted of water altogether upstream in the region of Balule. :(

No problem at all. We can then let water from some of our SA dams back into the river. See, easy :wink:

The point I'm trying to make is that most people want to place blame on Moz for potential low water levels / high water levels while our (SA) current practices is just as much to blame. It's easy to say they should learn from our mistakes if we have many dams full of water on our side.




It will be a problem. The Phalaborwa barrage contains 90% silt.
There ain't enough water to wash it down the Olifants.
Hopefully they would have cleared that silt by the time the Mazzinger is up and running.
but the way things are going at a snail's pace currently in SA I have my doubts.

Both SA and Moz can be blamed for nailing Kruger's Olifants river...

We now have SA on the left using most of the water for tree plantations, agriculture etc. withholding water from Kruger and if they do provide it contains silt.

Then on your right in the blue trunks weighing in at millions of hectares we have Moz, drawing the only water still in Olifants from it.
668
Latest Lifer(s): Buff-spotted Flufftail, Tree Pipit, Dimorphic Egret, Lesser Jacana, Citrine Wagtail, Black-tailed Godwit

Follow me as I bird on Twitter @wildtuinman

User avatar
francoisd
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Posts: 1937
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:38 pm

Unread postby francoisd » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:36 am

If there were more water (without the silt) running on a regular basis from the SA side to Moz it might not have been necessary for them to enlarge the holding capacity of the dam to ensure that they have enough water in storage for dry periods (as are experienced at this stage)
"The measure of life is not its duration but its donation." - Peter Marshall

www.flickr.com/groups/birdssa

User avatar
DuQues
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 17941
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?

Unread postby DuQues » Wed Aug 31, 2005 11:38 am

Just checked it, looks good there now:
Image
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

User avatar
DuQues
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Honorary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 17941
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?

Unread postby DuQues » Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:15 am

Not looking that good.....
Image
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

Hassim
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:03 pm
Location: Johannesburg

Unread postby Hassim » Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:56 am

Just arrived back from a short trip to Kruger yesterday.
I only went as far north as Satara.
A notice was put up regarding the Olifants River situation.
Satara receives its water supply from the Olifants River, but since the river is no longer flowing, water is being pumped from 2 boreholes in the camp.
There are now water restrictions in the camp (no watering of gardens, and the closure of the car wash).

The park in general is still dry - dusty and windy.
Until Kruger receives the season's first showers, the vast burnt areas are not going to be a pretty sight.

User avatar
richardharris
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 543
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 3:04 pm
Location: Nottinghamshire UK

Unread postby richardharris » Mon Sep 12, 2005 10:57 pm

It has been fascinating to visit KNP over the last several years and to see this cycle in action.
We first visited in 1988 which was at the end of a wet period.
I don't think I have ever seen the park quite like it was then again.

The following several years went through a really bad dry cycle, with many animals being lost to the drought.
I still don't particularly enjoy visiting in the winter -
I much prefer to see the Kruger alive, even if game viewing becomes more difficult.

This dry spell was probably longer than the 7-8 years - but ended at the end of the 1990s - in particular with the amazing events of summer 2000.

We do seem to be entering a dry period again, rather earlier than expected. But then again, weather is changing all over the world.
Who knows what effect that will have on the climate of South Africa; in the UK there are definitely changes very apparent now.

Richard


Return to “Kruger National Park”