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 Post subject: Rabelais Dam
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 10:18 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: On the Congo River estuary...
Hi

I am a KNP visitor who visits the Orpen area, as often as possible...which... IMHO... is the best in the Park! However...

Please can someone tell me what is the background and reasons for the demise of Rabelais Dam/ Waterhole?

It used to be such a wonderfull place to park and have few drinks and snacks..just to "chill"
I can recall epic gameviewing encounters at this dam, through all seasons, on all my visits.
I visited Orpen this past December, went to the Dam ... and no water... just grass! Strange, considering the heavy rain preceding my visit.
I gather the pump is not feeding the Dam anymore - Why?
Perhaps a KNP Guru will be kind enough to reply.

Thanks

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 11:10 pm 
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Fizzpop wrote:
I gather the pump is not feeding the Dam anymore - Why?

Hi Fizzpop. If you read the Rabelais Hut topic, you will see that Johann said in one of his posts that "the Rabelais waterhole has been closed due to severe erosion" and in another that "they have closed the borehole so no more water at the wh". :?

Hope this at least gives you an idea of the situation there. :)

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 1:26 am 
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If my memory serves me right the soil structure is not suitable for a dam, creating erosion at the overflow and the vegetation would/could not cope with the pressure of constant grazing. I also miss the dam, but understand the reasoning behind the closure.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 4:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: On the Congo River estuary...
I appreciate your replies. Thanks.
While i can understand the pressure to habitat that a Waterhole can have on an area, what was so different with Rabelais dam, than others, which surely have similar problems?

Was there not a case for providing a "waterhole trough" in the area where the original pan was/is, if the dam itself was eroded?

I am just a little peeved that one of the few permenant water-point places within 20km of Orpen Camp, where you could sit with a good view point is gone. The other waterholes in the area for "game viewing" (not counting the one at Orpen Camp), are a joke... just not visible or condusive to sitting and waiting!
Anyway, look forward to further comments. Cheers

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:36 am 
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Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Jannie wrote:
When you go to Orpen again, have a look on top of the door at reception there is a whole explanation of why waterholes in the KNP have been closed.


Quote:
In the 1960s, in an effort to boost game numbers, the Water for Wildlife project was started and erected about 300 windmills in the park.
The waterholes attracted game into the area.
At first this seemed a good thing; only decades later did the results show that with the impalas and zebras the waterholes attracted also brought more predators into the area.
Before the waterholes, these dryer areas supported roan antelope, which are much easier for lions to catch - the roans weren't able to compete.
The park has started to close the waterholes, and let nature take its course.

Angela Gaylard is doing her doctorate on the impact of elephants on Kruger's riverine vegetation through the University of the Witwatersrand.
In an ideal world, she says, park conservationists should close the existing artificial waterholes and force the entire ecosystem, including elephants, to depend on the seasonal fluctuations of the rivers.
This would keep numbers in check through natural forces, and the elephants' impact on vegetation would no longer threaten regional biodiversity.
In fact, she maintains, it may even enhance it.

Even so, elephant expert and former director of conservation development at SANParks, Dr Anthony Hall-Martin, considers megaparks and closing the artificial waterholes in Kruger the most realistic, natural and potentially effective of the options.

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Last edited by DuQues on Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 9:07 am 
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I think this was in the forums somewhere before , but I cant find it .

The problem is rabelias was in a particualarly bad spot , because of soft soils , and sweet grasses , so was heavily overutilized all year , with no break period , as the animals still didnt move away in winter , as they used to before the dam , when it was a seasonal pan/river .

The park has no intention of rebuilding it , even if it is funded externally .

It will be sorely missed , I can remeber watching lions drinking there , with knob billed ducks swimming in front of them , and cheetas just up the road .

Welcome to the forum Hennie :D


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 10:48 am 
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Hennie , I'm also adicted to Orpen and sorely miss the Rabelais dam spectacle , especialy for a late afternoon drive spot off the overcrowded H7 .
Since the 2000 floods I have seen 2 cheetah males on an Impala kill because game does still visit the windmill fed dam and concrete trough (in lesser numbers) . But I think it's days are numbered too , with the waterhole closing policy now in full operation .
In the far north I noticed sharp declines in animals at previously abundant waterholes . And what will happen when there is another drought and there are very few waterholes ?
Animals will have grazing but no water possibly !

I also have a nasty suspition that the waterhole in front of Orpen camp (with the defunct webcam) is also closed because on my August visit there were very few animal / birds - will see again on next trip later this month !

It's almost as if the management want tourists to sit inside their luxury bungalows consuming air-conditioned air at 6000 BTU's looking at the walls instead of parking under a tree looking at game . And I don't think that is what the affluent overseas tourist market wants either .
NO WATER = NO ANIMALS AND BIRDS = NO TOURISM REVENUE


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:35 am 
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Bit confused here
In the rabelais dam area i saw a natural dam with a nice body of water.
Is this natural or what.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 11:44 am 
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
Image

The sign explaining why the dam isn't there anymore.
Image

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Last edited by DuQues on Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 1:24 pm 
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Location: Gauties .
Bert , as far as I can gain from info , and looking at the area , plus stories from my grandfolks , there was always a pan there before the dam , hence they built the earth dam there in a natural depression that used to hold seasonal water.
They added a wall and a borehole , which made it a year round supply , and hence the overgrazing issue in winter .
The dam was sanctioned for removal , but was not removed because of the high tourist market in the area .
The wall was washed away in the floods , and then they decided , oh well its gone now , just leave it .

The fact that these sorts of areas occour naturaly , baffles me somewhat in the reluctance to create 1 un-naturally .
The dam was there for over 30 years , and the only massive erosion was a few dongas around the dam .

Mikev , I wonder the same thing in regards artificial water and have said this elswhere -

1 . The rivers are only half of what they used to be , and some are only seasonal because of water usage before they enter the park - this is not natural , so man should make up for it .
The fact that these sorts of areas (Permanent water with soft soils and good grass) occour naturaly , baffles me somewhat in the reluctance to create 1 un-naturally .

2 . What is wrong with maximising the carrying capacity in what little land there is left for the wildlife .

3. I fear a lot of this is getting done , just to save having to cull bigger animals like buffalo and elephant for politicaly correct motives .
Now all the smaller animals numbers must reduce accordingly also , due to trying to save 1 species .

4 . Yes , this is more natural , but unfortunately the area is not natural anymore because of the fence .

5 . I agree that this was needed in areas like mopani etc , that are not proper areas for plains game like zebra , and this impacted on fancy antelopes , but why is it getting carried out all the way into areas that are natural migratory plains game areas

6 . Looks to me like if a windmill or pump packs up , then this just gets written off to the closures .

Its ok with the high rainfall we have had , but lets hope these pumps are at least kept operational , and can be started up when drought comes along , to draw on the water that has been saved underground while the pump was shut down .

As some1 who works with machinery , I know that a machine like a borehole that is left not working , is more likely to pack up and be rendered unusable , than 1 that is actually working constantly.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:22 pm 
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Yes but the Rabelais Dam was built in the wrong spot...Tough its got to close. The other windmills etc have been closed to protect vulnerable species like Sable, Roan (nearly gone from Park), Tssessebe, Eland

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