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THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Discuss the different camps and roads of the Kruger National Park
Madalla
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THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Madalla » Tue May 31, 2016 4:20 pm

We were fortunate to visit Kruger these past two weeks.
Two weeks that went by in a blink, or so it seemed. But what a privilege to have been there, in spite of the drought.

I am deeply concerned about the trees in the camps.
Think of any camp in the park such as Lower Sabie or Letaba, and you automatically picture the camp with trees. Those trees are a valuable asset within the camp. It gives the camp character, it creates an ambience exclusive to that camp. Trees give shade to relax in.
In short, without the trees all the camps will be dull, soulless places.

In Satara especially, the trees are visibly under great stress because of the drought. I therefore feel that the camp management in all of the camps, can not stand by and watch the trees die off in the drought. They are irreplaceable.
Those tall trees took 30 to 50 years to grow to that size. You can not let them die because of a drought of one or two seasons. It does not make any sense.
I feel that they should try to save the trees by watering them - not on a weekly or monthly basis but enough to see them through the drought. It will take a lot of water, but it is an emergency and can not be avoided.
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DinkyBird
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by DinkyBird » Tue May 31, 2016 4:24 pm

Hi Madalla

I am just thinking that if the trees have survived such a long time, 30-50 years, this is not the first drought they have had to get through. Once the rains comes, will those trees, like many of the same species in the veld, not recover?
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Madalla » Tue May 31, 2016 5:17 pm

DinkyBird,

The present drought is more severe than any experienced in Kruger thus far. I have never seen the veld without a grass cover before. You can also see the effects of the drought on the trees inside the camp and outside.

So you can take a chance and not water the trees hoping that it will rain in October but what if it does not. What if the next Summer turns out to be as dry as this Summer. There is no guarantee.
At some point in time you have to decide to play it safe and not gamble with the survival of the trees. Or you could say 'OOPS' afterwards.
I am worried that some of the trees might not make it up to October.
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Friedrich von Hörsten » Tue May 31, 2016 5:58 pm

Thanks for mentioning this serious fact Madala and Dinkybird -- those trees could do with a bit of water! Especially in the very dry season -- August to October when it is HOT and DRY.
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Friedrich von Hörsten

Imagine Lower Sabie without trees!
Already the Skukuza/Lower Sabie road is a sad state compared to what it was before our huge floods of the past 2 decades that ripped out so much riverine forest in the Sabie river...
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Rooies » Tue May 31, 2016 8:02 pm

We read about 'the worst drought in living memory' and 'the worst drought in history' But our recorded history is only a couple of thousand years old. The species of trees found in Kruger have been in existence for millions of years and have survived droughts that may have been worse than the current one. Species have evolved and developed to withstand the drought and even if many succumb to the drought, there are always the strong ones that survive and reproduce.

If I remember correctly, it was during November 1987 when it was also extremely hot and dry. The trees were leafless and the bush smelled as if it could burst out in flames any minute. (The fat on the biltong melted into a fluid.) We predicted that once the rain came, the area will be transformed into a savanna. But when the rain came, the seemingly dead trees burst into life again.

The flora in the camps however, can be considered to be a garden, and I guess for the sake of our enjoyment, must be kept alive, even if we use 'grey' water for that purpose.
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saraf
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by saraf » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:50 pm

I'd actually object if such a precious resource was used on trees. Sorry, but I'd rather what water is around is used for the benefit of people, rather than just give pleasing aesthetic to the camps. I get that it is nice to have the trees and the camps would be different without them. But I'd rather have water to wash and cook with and no trees, than a camp full of trees but no people in them because they have had to be closed because there is no water.

I get annoyed when I see lawns being watered in times of drought, trees would take thousands of litres. And as DB says this is not the first drought they will have endured, nor will it be the last. They will survive, and the ones that don't will make way for stronger ones. As with animals, Its the way nature works.

We should be using every drop of water carefully. Which means turning off the tap when brushing teeth, having a shower instead of a bath. In short , we should think about every drop that we use. Water is precious and its time we stopped taking it for granted.
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Patto
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Patto » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:41 pm

But saraf, as Rooies suggests, they could use "grey water" ie water not safe for human consumption for the watering of gardens, etc. which Im pretty sure they already do. Water obtained from wash basin drains, borehole water not safe for consumption, etc are good sources of grey water.

I would rather be in a camp full of trees and most importantly as a camper, shade.
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Rooies
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Rooies » Wed Jun 01, 2016 1:55 pm

As patto said, the purpose of watering the plants is to keep them alive. What will happen if the plants are left to die? Remember, most of the tourist facilities are centered around big trees. After a hard day's drive, we are all looking forward to the 'oasis' at the rest camps or picnic spots. Imagine how disappointed you will be if you enter a camp and find it as barren as the veld around it. If a tree dies, it will probably be replaced and a newly planted tree will only reach maturity long after all our forumites are dead and buried.
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DinkyBird
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:47 pm

Many of the camps are still watering - or were when we were there two weeks ago. They have restricted hours that they may water. Some camps do use grey water.

Satara relies on water from Olifants - if I recall correctly.
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Yoda » Wed Jun 01, 2016 5:21 pm

The way I see it is:

Outside of the camps, nature should take its course.
If there is a drought, and trees die, that is the way things should be.

Within a camp, that is not a natural environment. Artifical within the natural separated by a fence.
So if gardens and trees need to be watered to help them over the dry period, then that's what needs to be done.
It is important to try use as much "grey" water as possible.
But it would be a shame for the camps to lose some of their trees, and rockery planting etc.
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Madalla
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Madalla » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:07 pm

Yoda,

Gardens implies a short term for rehabilitation - say 3 years. Even lawns can be left to die in the drought.
But trees are different. They dont grow back in five years.
But watering them will not be such a big deal - if you water them thorougly once in five months that should be enough to keep them alive until the next good season arrives.

You just can not refrain from watering them at all. And that is what I have seen in Sarara. The trees are suffering. They need to be watered sooner rather than later.
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DinkyBird
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Jun 01, 2016 6:54 pm

Lesley Nyawo of the Communications & Marketing Department in Kruger, is following this topic, and is chatting to the conservation department, and says he will respond here.
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Madalla
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Madalla » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:58 am

Thanks DinkyBird. I look forward to their response.
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Lesley Nyawo
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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by Lesley Nyawo » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:34 am

Dear Madalla

The decision by the Kruger National Park Water Committee in this matter in February 2016 was based on the fact that drought is a natural occurrence; hence part of the natural dynamics of the Kruger National Park ecosystem, thus some tree die-offs will be expected since this in some parts of the park, especially around the Satara area, the most severe drought in Kruger National Park's recorded history (a record spanning 100 years).

That being said, where tree species are of particular conservation concern, such as being an IUCN Red listed species, then these trees are identified and where possible recycled water is used to keep them alive.

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Lesley Nyawo
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Tel: 013 735 4358
Email: lesley.nyawo@sanparks.org..

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Re: THE DROUGHT WITHIN THE CAMPS

Unread post by DinkyBird » Thu Jun 02, 2016 10:43 am

Very interesting, thank you for the response Lesley!
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