Kruger National Park (KNP) Disaster Management Teams remain on alert as the park continued to receive more rain on Friday.
“We appeal for patience and cooperation from tour operators, tourists, and drivers within the KNP during this period to minimise any risk to human life and infrastructure. We are trying our level best to open passage for visitors to continue enjoying the park during this rainy period. Gravel roads in the south of the park remain closed for now and are being monitored constantly and they will be opened as soon as they are deemed safe.” said Oscar Mthimkhulu, KNP Managing Executive.
State of Rivers:
- Crocodile River remains in high flow, with sustained flows from upstream, but not excessive flood conditions. The gate is open for now but the rest camp is still not admitting overnight visitors as yet and the gate is for emergency access to replenish supplies and fuel.
- Sabie River remains in high flows, with sustained flows from upstream and access to Lower Sabie expected to remain closed for next 48 hours.
- Olifants River remains in high flows, Lepelle Northern Water used the flood conditions as opportunity to flush the Phalaborwa Barrage creating important storage capacity for future dry conditions.
- Access to the north of KNP remains open over the high-water bridge over Sabie and Olifants Rivers, although the Balule low water bridge remains closed and will remain for the foreseeable future.
- The Letaba River remains in high flows although only intermittent rain is expected. There is no access at the low water bridge connection between Phalaborwa and Mopani Rest Camp, high water bridge access to far north unaffected.
- Shingwedzi River remains in normal summer flow conditions.
- Luvuvhu River also remains in normal summer flow, as does the Limpopo River in the far north and access to Makuleke Contractual National Park/Pafuri Section remains open. Importantly during this flood process SANParks remains in constant communication with the Dept of Water & Sanitation and Catchment Management Agencies, as well as the neighbouring water management authorities in Mozambique and the provincial disaster management centres in South Africa.
- Overall conditions from a river ecosystems perspective is that the flood conditions provide good natural flushing conditions for the rivers, groundwater recharge which is important for dry season flows and at this stage there is are no concerns from a conservation perspective.
- All gravel and management roads in southern KNP however sustained significant damage which will only be assessed over the next 14 days as conditions start drying out and technical staff are able to get to these roads.
Forecasts: At this stage the mid-term forecasts are for intermittent and localised rain along with a steady drying out conditions. There are some forecasts for further wet conditions in 10 days or so, however KNP relies on the official impact based rainfall forecasts generated by the South African Weather Services for forward planning. These new impact-based forecasts have really assisted SANParks to be proactive and pre-emptive in their planning.
- All dirt roads in the south (Marula Region) remain closed, as are the minority in the north (Nxanetseni) due to wet conditions – The majority of tar roads in the park remain fully accessible, expect in the south with no access from Skukuza to Lower Sabie due to washing away of the road at 3 locations – Some damages to other smaller bridges but these have been assessed for safety and remain open – We strongly urge our visitors to remain vigilant and under no circumstances to access roads where barricades have been placed – there have unfortunately been a few occasions where tour operators in Open safari Vehicles have removed the barricades which might endanger the lives of their clients.
- All tar roads in the park are open; except the main road between Skukuza and Lower Sabie.
- The Pretoriuskop- Skukuza main road remains closed.
- Talamati and Biyamiti Bush Camps are closed.
- Balule is now open. Access from the south, S89 and S90. The Olifants River low water bridge is still closed.
- Sable Hide closed.
- Shimuwini, Bateleur and Sirheni Bush Camps open.
- All Rest Camps are operational except Crocodile Bridge and Lower Sabie.
- All Entrance Gates except Crocodile Bridge are open.
- The restrooms at Tshokwane are currently out of order.
- Skukuza Airport is operating but advises passengers to contact their lodges to get information before flying to Skukuza. The airport is currently processing passengers to and from the airport via Shelati Bridge; and all transfer companies, lodge representatives, car hire should pick up and drop off in the Skukuza Day Visitors Site which is adjacent to the train/bridge because the Sabie low level bridge is currently flooded.
The Park Management is grateful for the cooperation of both staff and visitors during this period as no life has been lost and implores visitors to be extra cautions when approaching low lying bridges. The Technical team is currently monitoring all infrastructure and carrying out repairs where possible. A full assessment of the damage caused will be done once the water has subsided.