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 Post subject: Re: WATERHOLES - Working or Dry? Updates!
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:47 pm
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Location: Noordhoek, Cape Town
Thanks KG for all of those pics - great to see that the water is up and flowing and thank you and all others concerned for all the hard work involved in doing so :clap: :clap: :clap:


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 Post subject: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:21 am 
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Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP
Date: 24th October 2012


During June 2012, large herds of Eland started migrating out of Botswana into the South African side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP). This movement is a natural phenomenon that takes place every few years, but nobody can forecast when the next movement will take place, unlike the well-known migrations that annually take place between the Serengeti NP and Masai Mara Game Reserve in east Africa.

The last time a similar movement of Eland into the South African side of the Park occurred, was in 2007. According to reports from staff who witnessed the 2007 movement, the animals then were thin and probably looking for better food sources, while this year most animals were in a fair to good condition. It is difficult to say exactly how many Eland moved into the southwest of the Park, but during an aerial census in September 2012, a total of 3 117 Eland were counted in the dunes on the South African side alone. Dr. Mike Knight, who has been flying the plane for many years while aerial counts were conducted, said that during no previous count in the KTFP had so many Eland been observed. It is also not known if some of the Eland came as far as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, but there is a possibility.

Under normal circumstances, when there are only a small number of Eland on the South African side of the KTP, the solar pumps in the Park are capable of supplying in the demand of the game by filling the reservoirs, tanks and water troughs. The only need for a solar pump to deliver water is sunlight. Since the arrival of the Eland the solar pumps and more specifically the Watermax pumps (which are in the majority) in the Park, could simply not stay ahead. Waterholes equipped with Grundfos pumps and windmills seem to be the only ones capable to cope with the large demand from the animals. Over time many windmills in the Park have been replaced with solar pumps.

Eland behave like cattle in many ways. New problems arose due to the Eland Herds moving into the South African side, which were unexpected. All of a sudden some of the water troughs were found trampled to dust (Eland bulls are much heavier than the normal Gemsbuck and Blue Wildebeest that visit water troughs). Broken troughs caused water to overflow into the sand and reservoirs and tanks ran dry. Some ball valve mechanisms were also damaged due to Eland climbing inside empty water troughs in an effort to get more water. The purpose of the reservoirs and tanks is to have a source of water which keeps feeding the water troughs at night when the solar pumps can no longer supply water. Several water troughs already had to be repaired with cement. In order to do so those water troughs had to be closed for a couple of days to allow the cement to dry before it could be re-opened.

During the day, while tourists are still moving around in the Auob and Nossob rivers, only a few Eland are seen, but after the gates are closed in the evening, the Eland move into the riverbeds where they then empty the water supply in the waterholes, Camera traps that are regularly put out at different waterholes have captured hundreds of photos to prove that. On some photos it is clear that by the end of the day some troughs were full of water - filled by the solar pumps during the day, but later that same evening numbers of Eland were visible drinking and still later the empty water troughs would be clearly visible. The next morning when the tourists reached the water holes, the troughs would be empty, the reason for many questions and complaints. Most solar pumps first pump water into reservoirs and from there the water runs through to the troughs. When the reservoirs still have water inside there is no problem, but with all the pressure coming from Eland as explained above, every morning the solar pumps have to start pumping from scratch. Rangers have witnessed on many occasions that water troughs were full or almost full by the end of a day, only to be empty the next morning.

Nobody knows when the Eland will return to Botswana. Some females are currently calving, which may hold them back longer than expected. It is clear that the water problem will not go away until the big herds move back into Botswana. The problem was not caused by Rangers nor Management not doing their work, nobody knew that such an influx of Eland from Botswana would occur for such a long period (it is currently in its fourth month). The way forward is to prepare to be able to accommodate large number of animals in future, by increasing water storage capacity to ensure sustained water provisioning to animals , whether migrating or resident.

Enquiries:
Micho Ferreira
Section Ranger: Twee Rivieren
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
SANParks
Tel: 054 561 2010
Email: micho.ferreira@sanparks.org

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:56 am 
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Thanks for that thorough explanation of the situation :D :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:57 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:58 pm
Posts: 266
Location: Stellenbosch
Thank you for this Guru
It's interesting that there might be Eland as far as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve present in KTP. Afterall isn't that the purpose of a Transfrontier Park. Free movement of animals.
And it makes complete sense that the modern solar power can't cope with this invasion.


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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:22 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
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Location: Okavango
Very interesting read :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:43 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:05 pm
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Location: Pretoria
Thx for the info Jannie, Trust to see all of the in December!

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:22 am 
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Thanks for the information!

So much better to know the true facts , than to guess and speculate and make wrong concluions.

Really appreciate your hard work and effort in the Kgalagadi.

:gflower: :gflower: :gflower:


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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:42 pm
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Location: Body:Pretoria ; Soul:Kruger
Thanks for the fascinating info Kgalagadi Guru. It will be interesting to see how this is addressed in future. This has sparked a few queries on my side.

In general Sanparks policy is to reduce artificial water holes to re-establish more natural ecosystem usage patterns. Just look at the current forum topic on waterholes near Mopani that will be destroyed. Shouldn't the vegetation in more arid environment such as KTP be even more sensitive to artificial water holes than in typical savannas such as Kruger? In that case, more artificial provisioning of water should be seen in an even more serious light in the Kgalagadi than in Kruger, right?

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:20 pm 
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Interesting stuff, KG. 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Location: BLOEMFONTEIN, RSA
Ifubesi, I do see your point. We must keep in mind that the Eastern and Northern border of KTP is not fenced. If you take away the waterholes and animals start migrating outside the borders of the park. We can just imagine what can happen to the animals. :sniper:

If all the previous migration routes are available and 100% protected by law, maybe then. That is my view.

KG thank you for the info :clap: :clap: :thumbs_up:

SJ


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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:14 pm 
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Very interesting indeed Kgalagadi Guru! If one doesn't know exactly what is going on, one could easily come to the wrong conclusion that someone isn't doing his work and will have lots of complaints and questions, which is unnecessary. :wink:

Thanks for informing us! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:23 pm 
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Thanks for the info Kgalagadi Guru :thumbs_up:

That explains why we have been seeing more Elands at Nossob Waterhole Webcam the last couple of weeks 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:01 pm 
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Thankyou KG. And it seems the lions have been benefitting from the presence of Eland. Lots of lion activity in the south.

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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:17 am 
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Thanks Jannie and Shakyjakes for the info - most interesting. I had no idea there was no fence in the northern and eastern section of the park. I presume that is because there are no farms there. Where does the fence start/stop? Rather curious.
Cheers
Bruce


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 Post subject: Re: Impact of Eland on water resources within the Kgalagadi.
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:12 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
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Location: Okavango
HI Bruce,

There are very few fences in botswana especially compared with SA. THe only fences here really are those surrounding cattle posts to prevent wild animals from killing hteir livestock etc. These fences are not really effective and so with an expanding population in some area the human wildlife conflict is continually increasing.
Sadly we lost one of our wild dogs (and probably the whole pack) a month ago due to this - been shot by farmers. Fences are good and bad...they do minimize conflict but obviously also stop natural flow. In this instance it seems as thought they have benefited eland which have moved down from the drier areas to water supplies - previously they would have probably come to the orange river to drink so these water holes are a necessity in saving many of these animals lives - its sure great that there are still these migrations going on! However there is lots of poaching going in oin Botswana and predictions of some 10000 animals being poached a year is what is happening around the Okavango.
Then there are the controversial buffalo fences which have been put in place so Botswana can sell beef to the EU. Europeans wont eat this imported beef otheriwise as they are dead scared f didease. The buffalo fence caused the wipeout of hundreds of thousands of blue wildebeest in about 1995 who tried to migrate east to ater from the CKGR to the Makgadikgadi areas. Sadly these day the buffalo fences are still up and prevent a lot of antelope from migrating causing there deaths. There are also holes in sections that are made by the cattle owners to go and feed on the 'greener grass'. Its also not uncommon to find poachers using these buffalo fences as racks for drying poached buffalo.
These fences are not doing natural migrations any good but they only exist more in the north of Botswana so the migrations still go on in the SW where there is a very low density human population. There is still hope for migrations between CKGR and the kgalagadi to continue as people are looking into keeping the routes open, while up north the routes continue to be close off. Currently EU is not buying meat from Botswana so the buffalo fences are not of any use from that point of view.
The buffalo fence close to Maun on the Eastern side of the Okavango has the advantage of forming a clear line to stop the influx of subsistence farmer from moving in toward the Okavango.

Basically there ar epros and cons to fences but right now its fantastic news to hear of all these eland coming from afar to drink in our precious Kgalagadi Park. Its event like this that show the TFCA idea shows a lot of hope and long may this kind of things continue. Very exciting !!

:thumbs_up:

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