Hippos happy as Irina breaks drought
Stephen Coan, The Witness
Durban - It might not have been a cyclone after all, but for some KwaZulu-Natal inhabitants Irina proved to be the perfect storm. At iSimangaliso Wetland Park the hippos are happy. And so are the crocs.
The park, South Africa’s first World Heritage site, includes nine percent of South Africa’s coastline and is in its 10th year of drought.
Andrew Zaloumis, iSimangaliso Wetlands Park Authority CEO, said the welcome rains have recharged the wetland’s pans. “Pans on the eastern and western shores of iSimangaliso’s Lake St Lucia, which were dry, have recharged and lake levels have also risen significantly.
“This is important as winter approaches for the 800-odd hippos and 1 200 adult crocs as well as the herds of buffalo and elephant.”
Zaloumis said all the local rivers, including the White and Black Umfolozi, were in spate on Sunday but not flooding. “However, the Umfolozi river will rise considerably at the mouth in the next 24 hours in response to the local flooding in iMfolozi Game Reserve.”
Zaloumis said there had been no significant damage and that all Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife visitor camps in the area remained open. Visitor roads were also usable except for the Mpate river bridge on the Western Shores and the Nkazama stream low-level crossing on the Eastern shores of Lake St Lucia, which were under water.
However, all boat launch sites remain closed till further notice.
“As the cyclone works its way along the coast off shore, iSimangaliso could continue to experience the coastal rain and swells for another few days,” said Zaloumis.
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