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When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

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jeffgordon
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When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by jeffgordon » Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:09 pm

While some people are kicking up a stink about the electric fences around Kruger camps (http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Electric-fencing-worries-Kruger-visitors-20130401) it got me wondering, when were the electric wires first installed on the camp fences?

I don't remember them being there when I used to visit Kruger as a boy in the eighties, so I assume they are a reasonably recent addition. Does anybody know the history of them?

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GlenD
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by GlenD » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:16 pm

Sometime in the early 90's I think.
I grew up camping in Kruger with a 4 ft mesh fence and two strands of cable above that. That was the fence.

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by jeffgordon » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:54 am

I totally agree with you, GlenD.

I would love to know what prompted the decision to install them. If it was in the early nineties, as you say, I wonder whether it co-incided with either the sudden influx of foreign visitors or the suddenly ramped-up security obsession of locals, or both? Was there perhaps a genuine, pragmatic need for them based on statistics of animals getting into the camps? It surely couldn't be for threat of litigation given that the majority of safari destinations in Africa do not offer high-voltage security to guests.

Whatever, in the course of putting my book of true Kruger tales together, I can categorically state - by way of a ton of submitted stories on the matter - that electric fences don't appear to have done terribly much to keep wildlife out of the camps. Or if they have, then the problems of 'hairy intruders' must have been quite significant before the fences were electrified!

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GlenD
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by GlenD » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:07 pm

Maybe someone from Sanparks can answer that.
Looking at the Kruger photos from yester years, the fence looked like it used to consist of wooden poles with strands of wire strung between them, the crowd interviewed for that article would probably have a hernia if that was still the case.
My father has told me of a time when his Aunt and Uncle, staying at the old Rabelaise camp many moons ago, had a pride of lions laying around in the camp one night.
The only animals that come into the camp that I know of are hyenas, badgers, some buck and on occassion, leopard. Oh yes and the odd elephant at Tsendze and Malelane.

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by Joep Stevens » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:38 pm

Dear All,

Electric fences are indeed a standard only since the late nineties and onwards. Although it was experimented much earlier right back to the thirties when Tomlinson tried it at Shingwedzi, which was established in 1933, not very successfully though. Electric fencing was introduced indeed to keep animals out and it was strongly motivated by primate problems (baboons and monkeys) that in many places became a serious problem. Further yes, what I remember is other problems such as elephant at Letaba and leopard at Berg-en-Dal. Now it is a standard for fences in Kruger.

Regarding the article, I agree with previous contributors that the fact that some fences might not work, now posing a safety risk, being rather absurd. On the other hand, the electric infrastructure was installed and it is meant to work, so guests should (justifiably) ask why would they not work. Camp management are responsible to keep the fences operational minimizing the risk that animals enter the camp.

Generally, it is my view, that these electric fences are very maintenance-intensive and if that is neglected they soon lose effectiveness and functionality. This includes trimming of perimeter trees and keep the strands free of undergrowth. The bottom line is that if they are there they must be kept in working condition. This in particular in camp that still have a lot of natural vegetation, eg Tamboti, Mopani, Biyamiti, Talamati, Sirheni and Shimuwini.

Thank you.

JOEP STEVENS
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by jeffgordon » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:29 pm

Thank you for your thorough answer as ever, Joep.

It is interesting to note that keeping monkeys and baboons out of the camps was one of the primary motivations for electrifying the fences given how the problem still persists today in most camps. If the fences do indeed hold back some of the primate hordes, so to speak, can you imagine how bad the problem would be right now without the electric fences?

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by spargish » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:58 pm

Oh news24 your credibility is amazing :roll:

I can assure you the fence at Maroela works, just ask my Dad :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

How can these tourists be sure they aren't working, did they touch them?
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by Bush Baptist » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:07 pm

I read somewhere on the forum of a photographer who successfully tested the fence at BnD.......
He didn't try again.
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by saraf » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:19 pm

Slightly off topic but I know of a Mod who has first hand experience that the fence at Addo is indeed electrified. :whistle:
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by Sheenaugh-Lee » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:36 pm

The one at B&G, LS and skukuza definitely work I always test em when Im their ;)
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by PRWIN » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:17 pm

The one at Balule also works - tested myself :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by giraffee » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:36 am

GlenD wrote:On or not who cares, they were not there for how many decades and now all of a sudden the fate of mankind rests upon them, seriously?

I can remember as a child when we once camped at Punda - before the fences were electrified - the fence were trapled flat at the bottom of the camping area.
We were the only campers for a whole weekend. :lol: Everynight the lions roared and in the mornings we found elephant tracks around our caravan. A great memory. 8) Today we prefer camps without fences.
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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by avon vosloo » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:39 pm

It’s almost a year later and I have yet to see any change regarding the maintenance of some of the fences around the camps. Now, how do you raise and discuss this topic without people taking offense? Before asking me if I did report it, let me assure you that I have done so in the feedback questionnaire. I sincerely hope that I convey the message from a genuine concern rather than a complaints point of view.

I started my recent trip report with a sunset photo taken from behind the fence at Satara saying that I would love to be able to remove that fence. (Over here):-

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?style=2&f=27&t=77743

Reality tells us that it would be almost impossible to do so. During the floods in 2012 I noticed that the vegetation growth along the fences (both at Satara and Maroela) were rapidly getting out of hand. You could hear the sound of electric shorts ticking between the wires regularly - even more so when it started to rain. This time around the vegetation was clearly out of hand with nothing having been done to the problem since 2012.

Have a look at the photo below. This fence runs alongside the Limpopo river bordering the Tuli between SA and Botswana. I have chosen this photo to show the early stages of what will happen when the ellies figure out that the fence is no longer biting them (second dropper on the left of the photo). It's not very clear in the photo, but the fence looked worse on the other side.

Image

Being a fence on the border of two countries its way more elaborate than the puny fences at Satara (no pun intended). The ellies will in times of drought be eying the greener pastures on the other side of the fence. Then one day one of the juveniles will be pushed into the fence and realizing that nothing really happened they will start walking along the fence for a few hundred meters happily bending over the fence posts. In the photo I'm referring to the outer two layers (basically the same as the standard fences used around campsites in the park) on both sides of the six (yes six) coils of razor wire in the middle. Along with these coils of razor wire there used to be a cable also running the length of the fence, as well as inspection points all along the way.

Image

What happens next is that they will somehow find a way through the coils of razor wire - I have not witnessed the exact way that they do so,but as you can see on the photo, they somehow do. I have seen the flattened coils of wire and some more bits and pieces of the coils all around the area where they crossed. I can only imagine the damage done to their legs. The cycle continues, the fence is no longer electrified and no-one wants to claim responsibility for the upkeep. Once a fence post is bent you have to replace instead of trying to bend it back into shape and re-using it. The costs for trying to maintain are quickly running into thousands.

Here is an example of the damage done to a fence similar to the ones used at Satara and Maroela.

Image

Please share your thoughts. Something must be done before someone gets injured and we need to change places like these at Satara (the Maroela fence is even worse) back to an area where you would want to go and watch the sunset knowing its safe to do so. For the record I also prefer camps without fences and if the mods think that I'm skating on thin ice - please remove my post :thumbs_up:

Image

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by Yoda » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:48 pm

My 2c worth.....

You can't have large animals enterring camps.
Too many people about, and too many children.
To allow this, would only be asking for trouble.

So if electric fences are needed, then so be it.

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Re: When did the rest camp fences become electrified?

Unread post by giraffee » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:15 pm

And my 2c worth

In my opinion most predators, elephant and critters are able to enter Kruger camps with or without an electrified mile high fence. Since the main camps have become more and more resort like, electric fences are essential. Mostly to keep the animals outside, for their own protection :tongue: .

Along Mapungubwe’s western section, behind the ugly fence is a newer elephant two wire electric fence the same as around the camps. They are more than adequate imo to keep the big foots out but not so for the bigger camps with people, especially children wondering around all hours, to visit the ablutions, kitchens, swimming pool and what have you.

Just for what it’s worth, the old SADF Limpopo fence in the first two photos has been without power for many years. Plenty openings have been made for human and bicycle trafficking and the ellies use them too. The elephants appear to know how and where to step on the razor wire to flatten it without cutting their feet however less intelligent grazers have being stuck in and between this particular fence and died horribly. We’ve also witnessed elephants, I guess other animals sense it too, materialize out of nowhere, to cross a fence, as soon as the power is off.
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