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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:28 am 
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It is great that Thomas is back and certainly a 'better' person after such an experience. Although traumatic and scary, it must be a life changing (for the positive) experience.

I would like to come back to the discussion around water restrictions in KNP. In all our 'traditional' camps the lush lawns and gardens are great to look at and forms part of the character of the camps. This may be a dangerous statement, but I believe parks management should seriouly look at replacing those with other indigenous plants and turn the camp gardens back to the original vegetation. The continuous watering of these lawns and gardens must use MUCH more water than we think....

For example the new camps are all natural and have very little lawn and/or planted vegetation. Look at the bushveld camps and the new camps at Mapungubwe. OK, I just threw a cat among the pigeons....hope it is not too controversial. :|


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:44 am 
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Hi Kingfisha

I don't think your post is controversial at all. I think it could be a good discussion.

If you look at all the new (or newer) camps, we are certainly giving preference to the indigenous vegetation. Have a look at Mopani for example and compare it to Letaba and there is a huge difference.

The problem would be to try and replace what is there already with indigenous bush. That would be a relatively slow process but it has already started with the simple fact that ONLY indigenous trees may be planted in camps. The alien eradication teams are also in the process of removing any aliens found in camps and staff villages (surely our first priority).

But what would the majority of guests say to the removal of lawns and the subsequent rehabilitation to the natural bush of that particular area - I am thinking particularly of Pretoriuskop here?

It would be interesting to get other opinions on this matter.

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KNP Spokesman

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:58 am 
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You guys move too quick for me, sorry for double posting in KNP Spokesman thread but that is where it started.

A bit of a catch 22 situation. I am all for removing alien bushes, trees and shrubs but the lawn is another thing. I know my folks love Letaba and have been going there for years and to them the lawns are a big attraction as with P/kop. I understand the reasoning about the lawns and there need for lots of water but I feel they add so much to the camps that have them. Just MHO.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:05 am 
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Also love the lawns. Like the one next to the river at Lower Sabie.
Alernative could be (costly) to pave some sections and provide
more benches.
Or pave with Acre for Africa bricks.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:59 pm 
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I remember once reading about a "drip irrigation" system developed in Israel.
You don't get much drier than that.
I wonder if these alternatives have been considered.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:00 pm 
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KNP should continue with their current policy. Eradicate ALL INVASIVE alien plants, keep the old camps as they are, all new camps and extensions to older camps (ie day visitor areas) indigenous plants only.

Keeps everyone happy. But of course that doesn't solve water problems entirely but it reduces water usage.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:12 pm 
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Alien invaders are a real problem. Another problem is that most grasses, particularly green grasses are fairly greedy.

On the other hand, one does need an environment that is soothing and welcoming to visitors.

As I mentioned in my last post, at some point I read that the Israelis, who are forever water short, had developed a "drip system" that eliminated heat vapour.
In other words, every drip went straight into the ground,and not up into the air.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 10:52 am 
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For the life of me I cannot "see" the type of grass used for the lawns in the camps.

Anyone know the answer?

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 11:16 am 
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greenish :?

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:04 pm 
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Maybe the grass could be pulled up and concrete layed and painted green. That would solve the watering AND mowing problems. I am thinking about it at home....

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:12 pm 
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The reason for my question is that some "indigenous" grasses need much less water than for instance an invasive species like Kikuyu (no idea how you spell it).

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:22 pm 
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I love the mix of 'gardens' in the various camps. I would hate to see Letaba changed in any way at all - it is a fabulous camp, very peaceful, and attarcts amazing birdlife.

Shingwedzi is the opposite extreme, with some superb trees and bushes but just dust to walk on. But its in such a dry area there is no other alternative!

Punda and Mopani have other ideas; areas to walk through which are 'real bush' and fascinating in their own way.

Variety is everything.

Richard


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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:40 pm 
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richardharris wrote:
I love the mix of 'gardens' in the various camps. I would hate to see Letaba changed in any way at all - it is a fabulous camp, very peaceful, and attarcts amazing birdlife.

Shingwedzi is the opposite extreme, with some superb trees and bushes but just dust to walk on. But its in such a dry area there is no other alternative!

Punda and Mopani have other ideas; areas to walk through which are 'real bush' and fascinating in their own way.

Variety is everything.

Richard


I remember many years ago when Biyamiti Bushcamp was started it had lovely virgin bush as a garden. Now Bushcamps are meant to be wild thats why people book there otherwise they would go to manicured lawns of places like Lower Sabie
Then out of the blue the previous Manager took it upon himself (Stephen ????? now at B N DAL ????) to remove most of this BIRD RICH bush "so that the visitors can see the river" the river is dry and still cant be seen from your hut. That was terrible destruction.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 9:19 am 
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IMO i feel that Stephen did a great job at Biyamiti. I have often sat on the patio of no 9 looking at ellies, buff and other general game coming down to the river bed, ellies playing in some of the pools in the river etc. If you want just bush in front of you then stay in no 11 and up. I feel that a nice balance was kept when bush was removed as there is still plenty of it left in the camp. I've had some wonderfull bird sightings walking through the bush that has been left behind.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 12:58 pm 
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:D Dear Peter (Bush Call)

Thank you for your posting on the de-bushing of areas at Biyamiti. Please allow me a moment to qualify and quantify what has happened at Biyamiti.

Biyamiti was opened during 1991, and since that time there has been no natural de-bushing, by elephants for instance, happening inside the camp itself and bar two occasions where fire partially burnt down areas of the natural bush inside the camp very little vegetation control has been done inside the fence.

When one compares the sections of bush inside the camp to sections outside the camp there is a vast difference in the density of the vegetation. That leads to mainly two problems.
- Firstly the build-up of plant material becomes a fire hazard especially during the dryer months. Should the bush inside the camp take on fire we will have our work cut out to actually save the camp from being totally destroyed. Remember we do not have a fire brigade just around the corner, and the closest help will be at least 45 minutes away. (Murphy's Law also says it will happen at night - which of course is just complicating matters).
- Secondly the build up of plant material has also resulted in the vegetation obscuring any view towards the river and from cottage 10 towards 15 the bush was so intrusive towards the front of the cottages that it almost had a claustrophobic effect. So yes this had an influence as well in the decision (after all I am working in Hospitality so I need to listen to the requests from our guests as well.)

After consultation with our section ranger it was decided that a decent clean-up of the camp was needed. We considered controlled burning but I was not comfortable with that at all. We then decided to cut out quite a lot of the bush and manage it better in future. Most long grass was cut (but not replaced with lawn), most trees and shrubs were trimmed and quite a number of shrubs (mostly raisin bushes and red spiky thorn) were in fact cut out. We left special pockets of bush, like the area in front of #15 in tact, as that created a special ambiance of that unit. Towards the back of the cottages we left the natural bush (albeit overgrown) in tact as well, as we decided that it should be manageable with our fire fighting equipment that we had at Biyamiti.

Without trying to sound too defensive on this issue, but I think it can be seen from the above that we do not just take our decisions lightly. I am better qualified in the line of Nature Conservation than in Hospitality and would like to think that I balance the needs and safety of my guest well against the impact on nature, even within the camp (which in the end is an artificial environment with lots of human impacts). However, when something has been left for too long it sometimes needs more drastic measures to correct. I have always been prepared to take the responsibility of those decisions on me (and the flack that comes with it), but it is not something that is just taken lightly.

Thank you for the chance given to me to put the scenario in context.
:D

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