The journey from Vaalbos National Park to Mokala National Park
Reports were received regarding the land claim lodged against Vaalbos National Park by the Sidney on Vaal claimants.
SANParks decided to investigate five (5) alternative areas to replace Vaalbos, and reports indicated a piece of land in Wintershoek in the Plooyburg area, south west of Kimberley, as the best option.
The University of Pretoria also did a similar exercise and their report indicated the same area.
The land claim was officially gazetted and SANParks accepted the validity of the claim.
Negotiations with the Wintershoek land owners were officially launched.
The Wintershoek land owners accepted the offer to purchase and the plans for the exit strategy and wildlife translocation started.
15 March 2006 - Phase I of the animal translocation started and the first 33 animals (19 Zebra; 8 Gemsbok and 6 Red Haartebeest) were translocated to Addo Elephant- and Tankwa Karoo National Parks.
17 March 2006 - The first animals were born at the new park (2 giraffe).
29 May 2006 - SANParks took over management of the Wintershoek property.
30 May 2006 - The submission report for the purchase of the Wintershoek property was approved by the minister of Land Affairs, Thoko Didiza
15 June 2006 - The sale agreement between SANParks and the Wintershoek land owners was signed.
22 June 2006 - The first animals (5 giraffe) were offloaded at Wintershoek from Vaalbos.
10 July 2006 - Announcement for stakeholder participation in the naming of the new park was launched.
26 October 2006 - The final phase (Phase III) of the translocation saw the last animals from Vaalbos offloaded at iNyathi-AENP (14 Plains Zebra).
The name “Mokala”- which is a Tswana name for the Camel Thorn tree (Acacia Erioloba) which grows in the area - was accepted by the SANParks Board and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism as the official name of the new park.
19 June 2007 - The official proclamation, naming and launch of Mokala National Park by Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
Mokala - Camel Thorn Acacia erioloba (Cameeldoring)
Occurring in dry woodland and arid stony or sandy areas, this is one of the major tree species of the desert regions of Southern Africa. This immensely important species has a great range over the Northern Cape and North-East province. It varies from a small, spiny shrub barely 2m high to a tree up to 16m tall with a wide, spreading crown. The seed pods are characteristic in shape and colour. This tree provides valuable shade and an essential micro-habitat, e.g. the home of sociable weavers, in the thirst-lands of the far north.
The Camel Thorn is an incredible resource to both wildlife and humans who survive in often harsh conditions. Traditionally, the gum and bark have been used by local tribes to treat coughs, colds, nosebleeds and even tuberculosis. The roasted seeds are used as a coffee substitute.
The Topnaar of Namibia made a powder from the inner bark that was used to perfume the body and the home. Local farmers say the pods are an excellent fodder source and its use as a good firewood is widely renowned.
Source: Van Wyk, B. & Gericke, N., “People’s Plants: a guide to useful plants in Southern Africa”, Briza Publications.
Source: Palgrave, K.C., “Trees of Southern Africa”, Struik Publishers.
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