ALERT: Kruger road closures ahead of explosions to remove artificial watering holes

2016-11-25 11:45 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - The Kruger National Park (KNP) Kruger has announced plans to remove redundant man made water point structures, which have been having an adverse ecological impact on iconic safari destination.

SANParks says the removal will take place in conjunction with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to demolish five redundant artificial water structures found in the northern and central areas of KNP as part of its long term rehabilitation program from 27 November – 9 December 2016.

'Road closures'

"Explosives will be used to demolish these structures; after which the rubble will be removed and re-used as part of the rehabilitation process. The area around the targeted structures will be cleared to ensure animals and human are safe and all roads in the areas will also be temporarily closed," says SANParks.

Visitors to the park should note the scheduled five structures to be removed: 

Sirheni Dam – 'It was breached by the 2012 floods and partially demolished in October 2015 but work was not completed.'

Langtoon Dam – 'In the Vlakteplaas Ranger Section, this was breached in 2008.'

Ngotso and Bangu Weirs – 'Along the S89 and the old main road S90 in the Houtboschrand Ranger section.'

 Gudzani north windmill - 'Located along the S90 and S41 roads also in the Houtboschrand Ranger Section.'

'Drought with  unprecedented impact on both the communities and wildlife'

KNP has been in the grips of a drought, which has seen an unprecedented impact on both the communities and wildlife in and around the park. As a result Kruger has embarked on a controversial culling campaign to deal with its effects. 

SEE: Kruger culling: Nothing 'sneaky' about it - SANParks

Kruger General manager and SANPArks spokesperson William Mabasa says KNP has been closing artificial water holes, where water did not naturally occur, since 2008. These watering holes have  since led to "numerous ecological problems such as erosion and other environmental degradation".

SANPArks says this has also resulted in a negative consequence for the rare herbivore species such as roan and sable antelope, increasing grazing competition by the more abundant herbivores. Conservation management has taken steps to rectify these negative consequences by closing and demolishing certain artificial water holes.

The following safety measures will be put in place during the operation:

Working on Fire, SANDF and Ranger teams will be on standby to extinguish any wild fire that might arise. Also, an aerial flight will be dispatched to the area immediately prior to detonation to ensure that no tourists may be in the vicinity of the targeted structure.

'Enhancing tourist experience' 

The park says through this conservation effort to rectify the negative consequences of the artificial watering holes, it will also be enhancing tourist experience with "alternative game viewing opportunities will be provided at areas of naturally occurring surface water".

“With the continuous research data at our disposal, we have gradually changed our outlook on biodiversity management over the years. With this data available, policies and procedures can be revisited and revised; and this is evident in the change in policy regarding water distribution in the Park,” says Mabasa.

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