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S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by bucky » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:50 pm

I doubt that the man made waterholes have got very much to do with high elephant numbers in KNP, perhaps only a little.
They also counteract in some part the man made reduction in water entering the park, I am sure the amount of water available in KNP is less than it was 100 years ago, where the rivers did not get dammed and drained before entering the park.

There numbers escalated very quickly before there introduction, and continued to do so in areas where they have been closed.
Also in other african reserves without waterholes, or those where they have ceased to exist due to colapsing countries, the elephant populations continue to rise.

The only common factor is where there are fences, or cut of migration routes, that is the true problem of elephant population issues.

In any case, thats a discussion for another topic, the water hole in question here is a gem, it would be a pity to see it go.

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Dabchick » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:06 am

It's not the total amount of water in the park that makes a difference to elephant population numbers, but the distance between water supplies.

New born and very young elephant calves can't go far without water (and elephants can't stay in the same spot near water all the time without eating up all the foliage available), so many of them (the young calves) die if natural water sources are the only water available. Man-made waterholes have changed this. Water sources are now much closer together, so far, far fewer calves die because of thirst (than would naturally be the case)... and then they grow up and live for several decades, all the while producing more calves that survive because there are so many (unnatural) man-made waterholes close together.

Now I wonder, what is the most/least humane way of controlling elephant numbers.... culling sub adult elephants before they can start breeding, culling older elephants (as was done years ago, but then there are to few mature elephants left to bring order to the herds... affecting elephant behaviour throughout the park) or letting the calves die naturally because of thirst?

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by bucky » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:38 pm

tent dweller wrote:bucky, so maybe you can answer my earlier question? Is the waterhole still functioning as we speak or is it no longer functioning? According to the March issue of Getaway magazine it is a very good place for special sightings. I posed this question before but the answer I received was not along my line of questioning, thank you

Yes it is working.

Dabchick, the elephant culling thread has all these discussions, at the end of the day KNP was made unnatural when we fenced it, the only humane(Proper) way to controll elephant numbers is to get rid of all the fences, which is impossible, so therefore unnatural water sources like the one under discussion become necessary to prevent unnatural deaths due to rivers no longer flowing due to human means, and cut off migration routes.
Is it humane to starve animals because we fence them in, cutting them off from moving to other water sources, and on top of that reducing there natural water supply ?
There is no humane solution to this problem, and the only solution is impossible at this point in time.

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by cheetah2111 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:11 am

bucky wrote:The rare antelope decline was in part due to the influx of lions following wildebeest who where able to live in the area due to the water holes. The wildebeest in the north are now greatly reduced, so at this point the closures so far seem to have done the trick.
This is most interesting :hmz:
When were the wildebeest numbers high in the North? I have only once seen Wildebeest at Punda.
Never around Shing.
Although I have seen a herd to the East of Mopani.
So I am interested to know about this Wildebeest increase Bucky
Over the last three years I have visited the North, and have not seen them.
When was this wildebeest peak?
And did the lions migrate there from other regions of the park (following the willies)?

It seems a contradiction of logic to me :hmz:
Wildebeest migrate to the North because of the man made waterholes, Lions follow to eat the Wildebeest, and then eat the rare antelope? :hmz:
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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by bucky » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:40 pm

I was trying to make a simple example,
The rare antelope declined for many reasons, and I did not realize you were only talking in recent years Cheetah,
I am not talking within the last 3 years, rather 30 years.
You can not make any form of ecological comparison in an area like KNP in a 3 year time period.

however lets take this discussion up a notch.

The boreholes where introduced in the 60's, however many where closed some time back(mid 90's onwards).

My mistake was to say Wildebeest, rather than Zebra AND Wildebeest were the main culprit in upsetting the balance, however Zebra are closely associated with wildebeest in the KNP and there used to be a lot more up north due to the water holes.
Look at the population graph below, and compare Wildebeest and Zebra numbers.
This graph shows populations in the Eastern Mooiplaas area.(The area we are discussing)
At the same time that there where more mainstream"prey" species, there was also the main decline in Rare antelope.
This was in a large part due to increased lion numbers, and yes lions did move into areas they never occupied previously.
Prides will establish themselves in any favourable area, and one with food and water permanently is without a doubt favourable.
The Logic in this is simple and sensible.

You never used to easily see Tsessebe at one stage in the Mopani area (70's and 80's), or even Eland or Roan.
All of which now get regularly sighted around the S143 loop, and its water holes.
Shingwedzi for instance used to be considered a great place to view lions and you used to see plenty there, similar to Satara and Crocodile bridge areas in fact, but not anymore.
In the last 10 or so years, there have been very few Wildebeest in the north, and a lot fewer zebra.
Wildebeest are also notorious for fouling water troughs, another cause of rare antelope decline due to diseases and bacterias etc, which Roan especially are not very immune to.

Look at the poor rains in Kgalagadi around 5 years back where the eland came out the dunes and to the waterholes after winter to drink from the waterholes, the lions slaughtered them in there droves, as they are an easy target.
Same thing happened in Kruger due to there being to many waterholes.

You will see I did not advocate for all the waterholes to remain open, rather only some, and then also on a semi permanent basis, allowing the flora in the area to have rest periods, and not become denuded.
This would not allow lion prides to establish, or Zebra and wildebeest etc to become permanent in the area.

Closing all of them will also not help, due as I mentioned to the fencing of migratory routes.
Eland for instance in the KZN reserves of Umfolozi Hluhluwe are almost non existant due to them not being able to migrate to the berg areas in summer and they suffer from tick related illnesses etc in the summer.
I am sure a similar migratory route used to exist between the KNP Lowveld and the Drakensberg, Mozambique etc.

Some interesting reading, which may clarify my replies above, and also show that it will not do major harm to keep a few selected "Tourist friendly" Water points open, seen as the rare antelope species numbers are on the recovery. ... 0798001207
To Quote some points from the above -
"Between 1986 and 1993, the roan antelope Hippotragus equinuspopulation in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, declined from about 450 to ca.45 animals. Data from long term monitoring of herbivore numbers, sex, age and herd structure and of vegetation condition, supported by spatial and demographic modelling and predator sighting records, were used to evaluate potential causes of the population decrease, including: (1) competition from zebra and wildebeest, which moved into the roan’s range after the introduction of waterpoints; (2) increased predation following the influx of zebra and wildebeest.

The population crash was associated with an increase in adult mortality, but little apparent change in calf survival, suggesting that nutritional factors were not the prime cause.
Increased predation on adult roan due to a build-up in lion numbers, following the zebra and wildebeest influx, seemed to be the proximate cause of the initial sharp decline in the roan population.
However, the ultimate cause was the provision of numerous artificial water points in the roan range, which attracted the influx of zebra and wildebeest, particularly during drought conditions.
Following the closure of water points in a section of the roan range, the roan herds in the vicinity are recovering
. Deficiencies in current monitoring programmes in the Kruger Park are identified.

Graph showing the higher than average amounts of prey species in the Eastern Mooiplaas region which is of course the area in discussion,
You can see Wildebeest numbers dropped significantly after the borehole closures started happening in the early to mid 90's -
Image ... .Water.pdf ... 20Park.pdf

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Impisi08 » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:34 pm

Grantmissy: ...... but that Loop is great for rare sightings such as Roan.

I was there the mornings of 15 and 16 May and saw, besides a lot of the "usual game", a roan, eland (both mornings - a herd of 10 or 11), Lichtenstein's hartebeest and tsessebe at Tihongonyeni. With Sunset Dam and a hyena den my favorite place in the park and hope it will take a long time before Sanparks will close it.

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Stoffel » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:31 pm

I was there on 12 May and saw the following:

On the S50, about 2 km north of the S143 junction.

At Tihongonyeni (a total of 10 together with quite a number of Tsessebe

I'm still searching for my Lichtenstein's.
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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Blouaap » Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:50 pm

The watering hole is open.
The immediate area is bone dry.
Saw elephants, zebra, Ostrich, Blue wildebeest, Giraffe, jackal, Eland and Tsessebe.
All of this from sitting in front of the watering hole.
Spent about an hour there. Counted 34 Tsessebe!

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Highbury » Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:32 pm

Does anybody have any recent info on the sightings pattern at Tihongonyeni .
I was there in April and again in May and the eland were drinking around 7am on a fairly reliable basis . Tsessebe are usually there most of the morning , as are zebra and wildebeest and the tuskers seem to prefer the afternoons .
I have seen Lichtenstein's and Roan as well but they are harder to predict .

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Scipio » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:28 pm

Still got Eland, Tsessebe, Lightensteins, but no roan in the past week. Lotsa Ellies, wildebeest, Zebra, and 2 Cheetah Brothers a few Km's south, but still great. :thumbs_up:

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Elsa » Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:52 pm

Glad to see the 2 Cheetah brothers are still hanging around.
We had such a special sighting of them late Feb this year. :D

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by DotDan » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:30 pm

Just loved the Tihongonyeni area and spent a bit of time there over the weekend. Birdlife prolific with Temmink Courser, Chestnut Backed SparrowLark, Kori Bustards and Kittlitz Plover's everywhere

IMG_0017 by DvdBergh, on Flickr

Some great looking bull ellies, lots of general game including Zebra and Wildebeest. Tsesebe was seen in the afternoon.

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by wildtuinman » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:45 pm

Also picked up a Roan here last week Sunday. My first for Kruger.

I see W@H got Capped Wheatear there too. Nice tick for Kruger that!

Plenty of vultures also in the area.
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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by Highbury » Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:06 pm

Was there earlier this week and saw 2 different herds of eland , a single roan , single Lichtenstein's Hartebeest Ellies , many Tsessebe , zebra , wildebeest .
No Temminck's Courser unusually, but many Kori bustard , Kittlitz plovers , CB Sparrowlarks.

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Re: S143 Tropic of Capricorn Loop

Unread post by wikus&mandie » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:17 pm

Was there last week (9-13/7) Viewed Eland, Wildebeest, Elephants, Gompou (Kori Bustards), Zebra, single Roan antelope, Tsessebe and a single Swartwitpens.
Plenty of Vultures?

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