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KNP to demolish its artificial water holes

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TheunsH
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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by TheunsH » Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:40 am

Something else, when reading trip reports it becomes obvious that animals in general in the northern parts of KNP are scarce, so the roan antelopes don't have a lot of competition up there in any event...maybe more artificial waterholes should be put in place!? :hmz:

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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by ndloti » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:04 am

The geology , vegetation , rainfall , species interactions etc are extremely complicated , people with doctorates spend years hoping to unravell these mysteries , and maybe they never will .

What is clear is that mans influence is larger than those who advocate the well being of the human race above its long term sustainability will admit - man is the worlds super predator - breeding genetically modified food in great volumes to satisfy our lust for money - now man modifies nature to suite his need to see game more easily - these decisions (although originally possibly meant for the animals benefit) have been proven to be short sighted - thus the closure of artificial waterholes .

Edit : Theuns - I am no expert , but certain antelope are less dependant on water , when a waterhole is provided it unnaturally attracts more common antelope to a particular area which suites rarer species , the areas food source is then rapidly depleted by the more common antelope - just one of the many fine balances which are easily upset .
As Jane mentions in the next posting , the water points were installed in an effort to satisfy animals thirsts and hunger to keep them within the KNP boundaries before boundary fences were erected , later the fences blocked animals natural routes to where they would migrate to find water & food in times of need .

"...we roll down concrete roads over fresh green grass , for our lorry loads pumping petrol gas ..."

Nearly every modification or influence on nature by man has a long term negative effect on natural areas .
Yet we will never understand the fine balances of nature ...
Last edited by ndloti on Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by iNkwazi » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:30 am

Although the size of Kruger is about 2 million hectares, it is still in essence 'artificial' as it is surrounded by fences. (ok, they are taking down fences to extend it). Millions of years ago, the animals roamed free, and migrations took place. A happy balance in nature occured. Now, humans effectively control that balance. We learn as we go, and I'm sure that the scientists etc. are doing their best to keep it as natural as possible. We will have hiccups as we go along, but hopefully they are rectified in a way that positively affects all things wild.

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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by o-dog » Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:14 am

That is so true Jane...
Fences will hamper some animals searching for water in certain areas.
I know the aim of taking away waterholes is to reduce grazing pressure in the surrounding vegetation but surely leaving some waterholes will just increase the pressure that much more in the areas with remaining waterholes. Its almost like the areas should rather be flooded (pun intended) with waterholes so that there is no grazing pressure.
If this goes ahead the outcome will be interesting and I hope the thinking is not only scientifically sound but also that it is not to the detriment of many animals thereby continuing their ongoing struggle at the hands of man because we deem it to be the right idea.

For example look at wildebeest numbers in the park...they once occured in the area in 100 000's...now today there are fewer than 10 000 (last time I saw the census). The Sabi Sands has reintroduced 100's even upto 1000 in the last few years but the population keeps staying low and not increasing. Although they (Sanparks) have the right ideas in trying to manage the area the reality is that things are taking their course irrespective (greater problems like water abstraction outside the park is reducing the water table in the Park thereby favouring your Combretums and Terminalias etc which survive in harsher condition) and at the moment its becoming the Kruger National Kudu (or Nyala or Elephant) Reserve. Watch this space...
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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by Eugene123 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:07 pm

Salomon Joubert, previous park head, did his doctoral dissertation on the Roan Antelope and the effect of surface water, amongst others. These animals are not dependant on surface water at all. This could be a reason why they are more successful further north where there are less animals which in turn attracts less predators.
In the books edited by Salomon Joubert about the history of Kruger it is apparent that water management has been and remains one of the single most challenging aspects of Kruger. It will always be a changing scenario as more scientific information is acquired. Fascinating reading!
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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by salamanda » Sun Aug 30, 2009 8:11 pm

It is, however, very frustrating and disappointing to plan a day that includes certain waterholes/dams and then only discover that they are closed/empty when you get there because there is no available information. I feel that SANParks needs to be more open about the whole question and explain to the public why certain waterholes are being closed permanently and also which ones they are so that realistic plans can be made and the day would not then be spoilt in this way.

I remember that Silolweni had a large notice explaining its closure, which was temporary, last year; Sunset dam also had a notice explaining how the Nile cabbage problem was being dealt with a few years ago. Why can this informational approach not be continued and, at the same time, leaflets be handed out at the gate stating which waterholes/dams are permanently closed or about to be permanently closed?

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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by mel123 » Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:53 pm

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks! :D

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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by RUMURUTI » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:32 pm

I've just got back from a three week tour through Kruger and visited nearly all the waterholes from Punda Maria down to Lower Sabie and back up to Letaba.
My reaction was/is of shock and frustration as well over 90% were closed/dry and no information available anywhere.
The only locations with water were the dams and main rivers and I find it difficult to understand the plans behind the closure of so many waterholes. In certain places the area around the dams with water is compromised beyond believe and game is now concentrated in these small areas.
Some people will say this way visitors will see game and predators easly, I say its putting a great strain on all the game and destroying beautiful areas whilst leaving other vast areas totally untouched due to the lack of water.
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salamanda
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Re: Which dams/waterholes have been closed?

Unread post by salamanda » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:50 pm

I discovered that since 1972, 34 boreholes have been closed, but the last of these (in fact the last 18 of these) were close in 1999. It appears that these waterholes are, or have been used as investigatory sites in terms of development of plant species now that there is not the same animal traffic around them. One thesis postulated that by so doing, certain grasses favourable to Roan Antelope were increasing (mentioned in an earlier post)Another mentioned the possibility of closures helping to decrease elephant populations. A third possibility is concern about groundwater levels

There is an article in BOREHOLE WATER JOURNAL Q1 - 2005 - Volume 59:

Borehole Closures in The Kruger National Park….by Raymond Travers.

which may or may not shed light on the situation if anyone has access to it!


There has been no information published regarding anything later that I can discover although we know that there have been quite a few closures since.For example, Muhlambamadvube has closed. We also noted that Nhlanganzwani dam is empty (I haven ever seen it totally dry and empty like this) as is Gezantfombi dam; there was not a drop of water in the Welverdiend trough and there didn't appear to be any water in the Rockvale trough either, although it is not possible to see to the bottom of the trough because it is above road level; there were however, no impala,zebra or any other browsers near it which is a possible sign. Gudzani dam was also completely empty (this year) as was Renosterkoppies (last year, we didn't see it this year.)

It is possible that dams have been emptied because of toxic algal infestations - but SANParks used to put up notices if this was the case. I can't believe that some dams are empty from natural causes because others are pretty full, and the Crocodile is running well, suggesting that there has been more rain than last year.

I hope we can eventually compile a list of the closed waterholes/dams, but if the following is true
Talking to a guide last June he said the plan was to close all but 4 waterholes in the area south of Skukuza.
it could take some time; I feel very depressed about viewing in the south. Gone will be the pleasure of sitting quietly at a waterhole watching wildlife visiting. Instead everyone will be jostling for position at the remaining four and when you think of the behaviour of some of the visitors at waterholes now, this could be a painful activity.

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Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by Oumie » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:25 am

At Mholondozi - in May -we heard a gentlman telling a group of people that Sanparks is planning to demolish some dam walls...also Mholondozi :shock: He says that he is in construction and sanparks have made the call to get in some construction company to demolish some of the dam walls.
Very disturbing if it is true :(

Wonder if anybody can verify this?
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Re: Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by Rooies » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:08 am

I cannot find the thread that was started earlier on closure of certain water holes but one thing that worries me is that if all those water holes are going to be closed, then all the animals will concentrate around the existing water supplies and certain routes will become "barren"

When I visit Kruger and starts planning the day's drive I look at where the water supplies are and work out a route so that I can spend an hour or so at a water hole. If more people plan the same way then we will all be heading to the same remaining water holes.

Is there any scientific document available as to the full reason behind the closures, and if so which of them have been closed already and which ones do they still plan to close.
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Re: Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by Senyetse » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:42 am

SANParks will have scientifically based reasons for closing the dams. I think it has something to do with the algal blooms casued by hippo overpopulation. The water becomes toxic and kills many animals drinking there. Also the dams are man-made water points and Kruger is trying to get back to a more natural/less managed system. The hippo problem is because of the disruption of the natural system and there being too many dams. Permanent man-made water points and dams also result in overgrazing and trampling of the veld around the dams. I think there are too many man-made dams in KNP, they are having a negative effect on the veld and hence biodiveristy. Remember SANParks must conserve the whole system not only the animals. Give ecojunkie a shout, she should be able to find out the exact reasons.
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Re: Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by Rooies » Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:18 pm

Thanks Senyetse, your reasoning makes sense. Again the old problem of man's interference in nature raises it's ugly head. The hippo's that used to live in the man made dams will now have to move to the rivers where they face competition from the resident pods of hippo's. The newcomers will have to move but where to? To farm land on the borders where they will be shot?

So what is the solution? Culling? Or let nature takes it's course and let the hippo's fight it out themselves.
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Re: Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by o-dog » Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:47 pm

Senyetse although I agree with HAB's maybe affecting the animals, I have to strongly disagree with the rest.

The KNP is fenced, animals cant migrate, so closing waterholes is not going solve the problem and return the park to a more natural state.
And also the fact that only some waterholes are closed and not all, is going to result in animals concentrating around the last remaining water resources resulting in those areas being overgrazed, causing even bigger problems.
I honestly think that who ever is behind that thinking has got it wrong.
The fact is that you either close everything or nothing or you going to get some negative impact somewhere.

The balance of nature has been so badly affected in the park that new equilibrium shifts have occured and indivudual species numbers have changed. Look at the wildebeest for example. Historically occuring in 100 000's in the area they are now down to less than 10000. Thats more than a temporary fluctuation. Is closing waterholes going to help their numbers??

The biggest problem is not the water in the park but the water outside the park and whats happening to it. Water abstraction and damming have seriously lowered the water table in the KNP and there has been a shift in vegetation make-up from grassland and favourable browzing species to vegetation associated with drier ground conditions, such as your Terminalias and Combretums.
The way things are going, you will continue to see a decrease in numbers of your plains species and those associated with broken woodland. eg Wildebeest, Cheetah, Wilddog. You will see and increase in the thick bush loving species eg Kudu and Nyala.

Basically although difficult the main problem is not being dealt with!
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Re: Some dams to be demolished?

Unread post by Rooies » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:31 pm

Long discussions were held, arguments put on the table and solutions proposed but I do not see any comment by researchers or management. (Don't they ever visit this forum?) Perhaps they should stay quiet because if a report is brought out by scientist and management accepts it, it will take the fun out of debates between our "regulars"
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