Kruger Park 80% functional - CEO

2012-01-19 15:20

Johannesburg - The Kruger National Park was 80% functional by Thursday afternoon after heavy rains earlier in the week, SA National Parks (SANParks) said.

"A few tents were damaged, but our tourism facilities stood the test of the flood," chief executive David Mabunda said.

Water pumps and pipelines along river banks were damaged, but the park's engineering team was already working to restore the water supply to affected areas.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported, although six foreign tourists - four Italian and two British - were washed away in their car near Hamilton tent camp, he said.

People cut off

The tourists were taken to doctors at Skukuza for treatment.

In the north of the park, 26 people remained cut off and rangers were re-routing them to safety.

Another 22 people remained trapped at Biyamiti camp - one of the smaller accommodation sites.

Some guests who were trapped in cars had been rescued by Thursday morning. SANParks had kept their families updated on the situation.

Mabunda said no animal casualties or fatalities had been reported.

It appeared that the wildlife had sensed the approaching danger as most had migrated to higher ground days before.

Anti-poaching measures continued despite the floods, and Mabunda warned poachers that the wet ground would make it easier for rangers to track them.

The heavy rains were a "large infrequent event that tests the resilience of the ecosystem".

Positive effects of the flood were that previously dry areas were hydrated, while sediments and invasive plants were washed away.

‘Nature replenished itself’

Aquatic species were also afforded the opportunity to recolonise by the unusual conditions.

"Nature has replenished itself... events like this recharge the environment," Mabunda said.
In terms of future tourism revenue, the flood was likely to have a positive effect because "whenever an event of this nature occurs, we usually get more visitors".

Early projections from the chief engineer indicated that the park infrastructure would be completely fixed within six months, he said.

The Talamati, Buyamiti, and Shimuwini camps were still cut off, spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said in a statement on the SANParks website.

The Talamati and Balule camps were flooded, while six tents at Lower Sabie had to be evacuated.

The staff village, camping site, swimming pool, and filling station at Letaba were swamped.

At Skukuza, a staff house was flooded and the indigenous nursery was damaged, but the water level had come to rest on the boundary fence. No serious damage had been reported at the rest camp.

Guests evacuated

The road between Skukuza and Tskokwane was still closed with the high level bridge intact, but blocked by debris.

The Crocodile Bridge road remained shut, but the rest camp of the same name was undamaged as the water had stopped rising 50m from the fence.

All gravel roads south of the Letaba River were still closed.

On Wednesday, precautionary evacuations were carried out in low-lying areas, including staff accommodation and river-view chalets.

Some guests had to be evacuated to accommodation outside the game reserve.

Residents supplied by the Ntunda, Sibange, Langeloop, and Masibekela water treatment plants would be provided with water, said Mpumalanga co-operative governance spokesperson Simphiwe Kunene.

Department head David Mahlobo and Nkomazi mayor Thuli Khoza had conducted an assessment of flood damage in Nkomazi, he said.

The areas most affected were Tonga, Block A, B and C, Masibekela, Driekoppies, Mangweni, Steenbok, Naas, and Sibange.

"Fourteen families have been affected and need reallocation, while 16 families were affected without needing to be relocated," Kunene said.

All the families would receive food parcels and blankets.

The municipality posted signs to redirect traffic on roads and bridges deemed unsafe after heavy rains on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kunene said his department would engage with the department of public works and the SA National Roads Agency Limited to repair damage, such as debris and potholes caused by the flood.

  • mike.bester1 - 2012-01-19 16:09

    Kruger National Park now known as the Kruger dam .LOL

  • Chumscrubber1 - 2012-01-19 16:20

    The staff at Skukuza were pretty unhelpful to guests stuck in their cars there for the night. Would have at least expected some interest, like an offer of a loan of pillows and blankets. Seems they are not the most caring bunch. Apparently there are beds in some dormitory they could have offered as well, but seems this was too much of a schlep for them.

      jonathan.litvin - 2012-01-19 18:47

      I had a similair experience.Its time for SANparks to address the disgraceful behaviour of senior management running the Skukuza camp.

      Chumscrubber1 - 2012-01-19 20:51

      Probably refused to work as it was past shayile time. Ethics have changed regarding work since the introduction of unions, no more pride, selfishness rules. A pity.

      phboshoff - 2012-02-15 12:52

      The Kruger park is a wonderful place especially when you are alone on the road and no workers are around. They took the place completely over... I was there in 09,10,11 and the same happens every time. Every night i had to walk over to the staff area and asked then to please keep quite, their music is so loud it can be heard through out the whole camp. And just as you think you will make a complaint to the keeper or even the manager they tell you you ain't welcome here this is our country now but this only happens in Skukuza the rest of the park are so helpfull.... Skukuza wil never see me again

  • Joyce - 2012-01-19 21:44

    Arme mense en diere! Baie skade.

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