Skukuza - The Kruger National Park is concerned plans to enlarge the Massingir dam in Mozambique will destroy one of the world's largest breeding grounds for the Nile Crocodile.
The higher dam wall and newly installed sluice gates would cause sediment to back up into the 8km-long Crocodile Gorge, said spokesperson for the Kruger National Park, Raymond Travers.
The gorge is in the park and, while it is not generally accessible to tourists, it is the world's largest breeding ground for the Nile Crocodile, he said.
"There are thousands of them in the river," he said.
The Massingir dam was built in the 1970s but the 16-year civil war that ensued after independence from Portuguese colonialism hampered the completion of the dam, notably the installation of the sluice gates.
Was environmental impact assessment done?
Now the Mozambican government, through a $800m loan from the African Development Bank, plans to install the sluice gates and raise the height of the dam wall.
This will enable the dam to hold its full capacity of 2 800 million cubic metres of water.
The work began in 2004, and is scheduled to end in October 2006.
Travers said there was concern as to whether Mozambique had conducted an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
"We understand Mozambique needs the dam," he said. "What we are concerned about is whether an EIA was done."
The Olifants River Forum, which includes the Lepelle Water Board, Palaborwa Mining company, Kruger National Park, Sasol, Foskor and Eskom, has also raised concern about the dam project.
SA conducting its own EIA
Two major floods on the Olifants River in 1986 and 2000 clogged deep pools in the lower third of the gorge with sand.
What used to be able to accommodate hippos, is now only a shallow stream.
Spokesman for South Africa's Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), Themba Khumalo, said the department was conducting its own EIA about the effects of the bigger dam.
"Officials in our Mpumalanga office are busy carrying out the EIA," said Khumalo. He said it may take a few months to complete.
Mozambique's foreign press office spokesperson, Simao Cavele, failed to return calls after promising to look into the matter. Courtesy http://www.news24.com
: The photos from our trip! Overhere! 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