Kruger National Park

The Danger of Cell Connection at KNP

The Danger of Cell Connection at KNP

Are Selfies contributing to the endangerment of species?

Do you remember how comforting the Kruger was 30 years ago, when you and your new spouse arrived at the park for a non-conventional honeymoon? The warmth of the sun and the vague sound of all sorts of chatty animals filled the air with peace and purity. Flash forward 30 years and the pulse of the Kruger has been poached, stolen and warped into the morgue of a new predator.

Exposing an animal's coordinates can be done accidentally, due to ignorance of the relevant technologies.

Kruger National Park General Manage,r Ike Phaahla, has urged visitors not to share selfies (or other photos) of endangered species on social media channels. Something as innocent as a selfie can be incredibly detrimental to the preservation of already endangered species, such as rhinos and elephants.

The danger of selfies lies in the fact that your cell’s geolocation can be tracked by poachers, potentially providing increased opportunities for this heinous crime to be committed. With poachers adopting malicious technological methods to track animals, we need to be aware of the danger that we as ‘touring photographers’ potentially pose to wildlife.

Exposing an animal’s coordinates can be done accidentally, due to ignorance of the relevant technologies. Many smartphones and GPS-enabled cameras automatically implant geotagged data that provides the physical coordinates of exactly where the photo was taken.  When the geotagged photo is uploaded to a social media site, the animal is immediately made vulnerable.

Just last year, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, stated that more than half of the 318 poaching incidences in South Africa, between January and June, happened in the Kruger National Park.

We can all play a part and make a positive difference by following some simple guidelines that will ensure that we don’t place any animal at risk when sharing photos, but rather help to protect them from preying poachers:

We can all play a part and make a positive difference by following some simple guidelines that will ensure that we don’t place any animal at risk when sharing photos, but rather help to protect them from preying poachers:

Refrain from mentioning the animal’s location in your post and gallery

Mentioning the animal’s location is a no-go. If you choose to manage your gallery using different folders, title the folders with very vague names.

Strip your location metadata

We tend to rely heavily on our cell phones to capture our life-experiences and surroundings. With technology constantly advancing, smartphones have built-in GPS, which means your coordinates can be tracked to the tee. It is vital that you turn your device’s location feature off, to prevent information concerning your location being imbedded in the photos’ metadata. Find out more about how to turn off your devices geo-location.

Bring the animals’ plight to light

Make the world aware of the animal’s dire circumstances. Conduct research about the animal you are posting to your social media feed. You could even go so far as to donate the pictures to animal conservationists, as they could use these in awareness campaigns and for counting purposes. Monitoring and tracking the population of a species can prove to be rather difficult due to a number of factors such as the vastness of land, accessibility, the density of vegetation, etc. These pictures may prove to be of vital importance for the preservation of an animal’s population.

Bring the animals' plight to light
These pictures may prove to be of vital importance for the preservation of an animal’s population.

The fact that poachers are now using such technologically sophisticated methods to further their objectives is of great concern, especially when you consider that it is estimated that, by 2029, the number of visitors to the Park will double to 3.65 million per year! For this reason, the danger of posting geo-tagged photos must be brought to the attention of tourists and the general public.

We must then pose the question: is merely cutting cell connection enough to curb the danger of human being’s most dangerous weapon…narcissism?

Tourism in the Kruger National Park: Past Development, Present Determinants and Future Constraints

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This is MeerKAT

This is MeerKAT

Meet MeerKAT: the wide area surveillance system which is having a massive impact on the protection of South Africa’s rhino population within the Kruger National Park. Named the Postcode MeerKAT to recognise the funders of this innovation, the People’s Postcode Lottery of the United Kingdom and the Netherland’s Postcode Lottery, this system has reduced poaching in the area which it monitors by 80%. We take a closer look at the MeerKAT Project:

The surveillance system spent a year ‘under construction’ as a dedicated team of engineers researched, sourced and planned a solution to combat poaching activity in an undisclosed area of the Kruger National Park. The MeerKAT wide area surveillance system was developed by three organisations in partnership, namely: SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation and CSIR, who faced a number of challenges. These included the terrain it would need to monitor, the movement of wildlife versus humans, as well as piecing the project together within the shortest time-period possible, as rhino numbers decreased daily. The result of their efforts brought to life the Postcode MeerKAT, fit with Reutech RSR 904 ground surveillance radar, information analysis software and night-detection, long-range cameras.

Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos.

Not a year had passed before the Postcode MeerKAT was deployed to a high risk area of the Park and the team waited with baited breath for its impact. The team did not have to wait long to track the MeerKAT’s success as it identified just short of 90 poachers in a span of two months while deployed; saving the lives of a predicted 19 rhinos. Postcode MeerKAT was positioned on a hill overlooking this high-risk area where there is a strong presence of rhino, as well as poachers. The system makes use of the surveillance radar to scan the terrain from its vantage point and picks up on movement; the analysis software then assists in identifying whether the movement is an animal or a human on foot, and whether that human is a possible threat. The long-range cameras are used to assist the team at night-time, when poachers are move prevalent. The surveillance team can then make a call on whether to track the poachers before intervening or to deploy helicopter or road vehicle assistance to the area immediately. Take a look at the MeerKAT in action here.

Postcode MeerKAT Launch

Since its first deployment in January of 2017, and in a time span of a year, Postcode MeerKAT has decreased poaching activity in the areas it monitors by 80% with a success rate in arrests of 90%. On the 16th of November 2018, the Postcode MeerKAT Team were invited to attend the prestigious Kudu Awards, hosted by SANParks, and were awarded the Innovative Project of the Year. The annual awards ceremony honour the individuals and projects which contribute to operational successes and effectiveness throughout SANPark’s conservation efforts. This is an incredible project which is rightfully being acknowledged for its contributions to the plight for South Africa’s rhino population – we look forward to seeing the project span the Kruger and grow from strength to strength.

2018 MeerKAT Kudu Awards
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The Kruger Park “Game Changers”

The Kruger Park “Game Changers”

The bond between man and man’s best friend, the canine, is a love story for the ages. While we appreciate our companions and their unwavering love within our homes, the Kruger Park has their own companions and guardians: The Kruger Park “Game Changers”. This elite K-9 Unit specialises in the tracking and apprehension of poachers and smugglers across the Park.

The Kruger National Park is home to a number of threatened species, whose latest predators (poachers) have had an advantage over anti-poaching efforts until the recent introduction of the K-9 unit, often referred to as the ‘game changers’. These canines are bred through existing, and proven, bloodlines to produce dogs that are the most efficient in the war against poaching. Different breeds have been selected for their inherent abilities: Beagles and Labradors are more commonly used to sniff out contraband in vehicles entering and leaving the park; a mixed breed of Bloodhound and Doberman are used as trackers and; the Belgian Shepherds, commonly referred to as Malinois, are trained to apprehend poachers. There are currently 55 dogs operating within the Kruger National Park, with an additional 20 located in national parks throughout South Africa.

Most notably increasing the success of anti-poaching efforts has been that of the tracking hounds. Traditionally, these working dogs had been led on-leash through sections of the Kruger by a handler, searching for scent; this process is slow-going and often poachers manage to escape. Recently, however, the introductions of hound groups have been deployed to manoeuvre off-leash. Dog handlers and rangers follow the dogs from a helicopter, where they can scour the surrounds for danger, while the pack races along a trail. It is remarkable to see these animals move uniformly through the veld on a trail, often shifting positions as lead runners fatigue. Once the team spots a threat the dogs are called off and collected to be safely removed from the scene, while Rangers assist in the arrest of poachers. Two distinct groups of dogs used in free-run chases can be noted: that of the South African Wildlife College and an import of Texan hounds. To date these K-9 Units have been deployed in over 70 chases, leading to the successful arrests of over 140 poachers; an increase of approximately 50% on poaching efforts.

Credit to ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears, as adapted from Africa Geographic

These canines can certainly be awarded the title of the Kruger Park ‘game changers’, then. While their work is incredible to witness, this job is also extremely high-risk. Not only are these dogs working hard, across large distances and under the African sun, where exhaustion and heat reign supreme; but the threat of dangerous wildlife and fire-power of poachers needs to be taken into consideration, as well. The hounds are trained by the best, but accidents and mishaps can occur at any time. The costs of running a successful operation of this magnitude also add up; dog breeding operations, satellite collars for the dogs, helicopters, training apparatus and a number of other elements require funding.


If you wish to get involved with this proven anti-poaching unit, please click here.

After experiencing the abilities of these hounds, it is no surprise that not only are the Kruger Park ‘game changers’ man’s best friend but the best friend and guardian of South Africa’s heritage: its wildlife.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, Kruger National Park, 0 comments
2019 Mining Application

2019 Mining Application

Ngwenya Lodge, Marloth Park, Lionspruit and a number of properties near Komatipoort on the southern border of the Kruger National Park have recently come face-to-face with Manzolwandle Investments; a company, based in Witbank, Mpumalanga, applying for a mining right spanning approximately 18 000ha near Komatipoort. Here’s everything we know about the 2019 mining application:

The mining right application spans 18 000ha.
  • Manzolwandle Investments has applied for four applications for the above-mentioned area; namely, a mining permit, a mining right and two prospecting applications. These applications were submitted on the 19th July 2018 and accepted for consideration by the Department of Mineral Resources on the 12th September 2018. Manzolwandle Investments then hired Singo Consulting (Pty) Ltd as their Environmental Assessment Practitioners to conduct their evaluations of the proposed mine’s impact on the area and surrounding environment.
  • In terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, applicants of this nature are required to notify all property owners and all interested and affected parties of the development. While Singo Consulting did, in fact, host a meeting on the 28th May 2019, only a handful of parties were invited to attend this public meeting and many affected parties, such as Ngwenya Lodge, were not informed of the gathering or the proposed open cast mine in the area. Ngwenya, the management team and managing agent, VRS, were informed of the application through other Interested and Affected Parties, such as Cindy Benson, from the Marloth Park Ratepayers Association.
  • Singo Consulting, in the meantime, has submitted their Scoping Report, which lays out their estimates on capital investments and highlights the details of the proposed mining project. This is an initial report and further information and research is required to determine the viability of such a project. Business Maverick conducted further research and discovered that this initial report makes no mention of the mine being within a protected area. Singo, on the 08th July 2019, also submitted their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Programme. According to IOL, this assessment states that 33 species will be affected by the coal mine and fails to mention the effect of the mine on the wetlands. Singo’s response is that mining will not take place within 100m of the wetlands, neglecting to state that any mining activity will still negatively impact the natural water resources in the area.
  • AfriForum has since started taking action to oppose the 2019 mining application near the Kruger National Park and Komatipoort. AfriForum’s lead on environmental affairs, Lambert de Klerk, submitted a letter to Manzolwandle Investments and Singo Consulting to outline the processes which have not been followed and to inform both parties that documentation concerning the proposed mine was not made public knowledge, as is necessary. Soon after, the EIA was published.
  • The Corridor Gazette, a local newspaper based in Mpumalanga, provided insight into a meeting held with the applicants, as well as Interested and Affected Parties on the 30th June 2019 at the Disaster Management Centre. Evidently, while certain studies were available to be viewed, the Environmental Impact Assessment had not been made public yet, even though a deadline for comment thereon was to be made before the 19th June, previously the 19th July. This raised yet another red flag regarding the 2019 mining application and due diligence not being followed for proper procedure. This gathering also brought to light that Singo and Manzolwandle have applied for water rights in the area, as well. This news further raises concern for the environment and communities in surrounding areas.
  • Shortly after the initial meeting between interested parties, Manzolwandle Investments and Singo Consulting, Corridor Gazette reported on the business chamber meeting held on the 04th of July, 2019, where over 300 interested parties gathered at Kambaku Golf Club to discuss the 2019 mining application. The Kruger Lowveld Chambers of Business and Tourism (KLCBT), as well as the Nkomanzi Local Tourism Organisation, co-hosted the meeting to outline the process of such an application and to inform meeting attendees of the impact the application would have on the area. The meeting also introduced Richard Spoor, an attorney and activist with a focus on South African human rights and environmental rights, who has agreed to assist Interested and Affected Parties.
  • Lowvelder, a second local newspaper in Mpumalanga, has also joined voices to shed light on the 2019 mining application, sharing their latest update on the 05th July 2019. Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai, an agricultural interest group, has voiced concerns on the proposed mine from a farming point-of-view. In Lowvelders article, Rossouw is quoted to have said, “This one-off yield [of the mine], as well as damage to the water table, ecology and tourism, should be weighed up against the current agricultural activities in the area, which can yield a growing income of more than R100 000 per hectare per year after deductions for an indefinite time.” Rossouw had also approached an independent mining consultant who informed him that the water requirements of the mine would affect irrigation farmers up to 300km along the Crocodile River, while dust particles from the open cast mine will affect crops; an industry that brings R100 000 per hectare per year for the economy.
  • Cindy Benson has been at the head of the fight against the 2019 mining application and continues to work with property owners and Interested and Affected Parties in the area to oppose the application. In an interview with IOL, Cindy voiced everyone’s concern over the water usage of the mine and its impact on the communities, agriculture and environment within the Kruger National Park, “The most import threat is the impact the coal mine will have on our water. The mine aims to produce approximately 20 million tonnes of high-grade coal per year, which means that the mine will use approximately 11.62 billion litres of water per year. The Kwena dam is at 40% and the Crocodile River catchment and its tributaries are disastrously low.” Other concerns include how the disruption caused by mining activities and noise pollution will affect the density of wildlife in the area, how the opencast mine will destroy and scar the biome, what impact this application will have on tourism and the workforce in the area, as well as the extent to which it will diminish agricultural activity. Many have joined voices to Benson’s over how Manzolwandle’s estimate of 150 jobs at the mine could possibly outweigh the jobs created and sustained by a number of tourism and hospitality, farming and other properties in the area.
  • To date, the only statement made by either Manzolwandle Investments, or Singo Consulting, was to IOL by Raymond Zulu, a director of the company applying for the mining right,

“They are drunk. It’s an unwinnable case. We are following all the correct procedures. They’re going to waste their money for nothing. The only people objecting are the white people. Some are not even staying in Marloth Park. They are in Australia, England, Joburg and America. Where we are going to start mining is about 12km away from Marloth Park. The people who are supporting us are the black people. They are hungry and we have to develop their lives and their places in the right manner. The Kruger is far from the place we are going to mine. I cannot talk about someone who cares about animals and doesn’t care about human beings.”

27 JULY 2019, 12:45PM / SHEREE BEGA / IOL
  • Early in October 2019, Singo Consulting, the applicant’s environmental consultant, withdrew as Environmental consultant. A case was also opened against Singo Consulting, for plagiarism and fraud, as their Background Information Document was a copy and paste from other Background Information Documents. As the Applicant’s (Manzolwandile Investments) EIA consultants have withdrawn, they will need to appoint new consultants should they wish to continue pursuing the application. The mining right has not been granted, just to be clear, the applicants were granted an acceptance letter by the DMR (which states that they must consult with landowners and interested and affected parties, as well obtain the relevant environmental reports).
  • At a meeting held on the 16th of October 2019, between representatives of Manzolwandle Investments (Pty) Ltd and representatives for the opposition, a number of pertinent points were addressed. Confirmation was received that the previous EIA was inadequate; proper scoping and a new EIA would have to be conducted and the area in question has been reduced from the initial 17 985 hectares to 10 000 hectares. (The area no longer includes Marloth Park or Ngwenya Lodge.) Later in the month, on the 30th of October 2019, the applicant requested an extension to allow enough time to do a proper EIA with the necessary reports.

Latest Update:

  • It would seem that the fight for the rights of wildlife and the surrounding areas of the Kruger National Park is not over. While there were cheers of celebration because of the withdrawal of the initial mining application by Manzolwandle, it has emerged that a new application has been submitted for 5 hectares of land, in place of the previous application for approximately 18 000ha. This news arrived on the 26th of February 2020, as once more, proper protocol and procedure has not been adhered to.  A new environmental consultant, Limp Earth and Environment Pty Ltd has been appointed to conduct the necessary EIA reports.  

We ask that every shareholder, visitor, guest and family member register once more as an Interested and Affected Party by clicking on this link, filling out the form and sending it to the relevant parties as per the instructions on the communication guide: https://www.ngwenya.co.za/docs/2020/NgwenyaLodge-I-and-AP-DataSheet10.03.2020.pdf

“We wish to thank those members who have participated and registered as I&AP’s to date. Although the information that Ngwenya Lodge is being removed from the intended mining area is a positive sign and good news for all owners; we request that owners continue to partake in the process, especially considering that the area may well still affect and/or impact the Kruger National Park buffer zone.” – Ngwenya Lodge Board of Directors

The Kruger National Park, Ngwenya Lodge, Marloth Park and others hold a special place in the hearts of visitors, as they arrive, each year, to experience the wonders of the South African bush. The town of Komatipoort and surrounding communities are reliant on the rich tourism and agricultural draw of the area for work and sustainable living conditions. As we await further news on the 2019 mining application, we will continue to do the best we can to play our part in preserving this rich ecosystem through environmental conservation.

Click here for more information on how this 2019 mining application will affect the Kruger National Park and surrounds.
Click here if you wish to register as an Interested and Affected Party.
Follow Ngwenya Lodge on Facebook to stay up-to-date with developments on this mine.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, 2 comments
Painted Wolves of Africa

Painted Wolves of Africa

It’s a rare sight; the Wild Dog darts across open savanna, working with other pack members in a sort of choreographed frenzy. The hunt is synchronised, each dog takes its turn, chasing and taunting. Before long the pack has worn down their prey; where only moments ago excitement and loud calls could be heard across the landscape, now silence remains. “The lonely wolf dies, but the pack survives.”

How is it then, considering the skill and practised accomplishment of an event so well planned and executed, that the “painted wolves of Africa” could be facing extinction?


Reproduction

The African Wild Dog, or Lycaon pictus, is a social creature which lives in a pack of 10 to 40 members. These packs consist of an alpha male, an alpha female and several male and female subordinates, but the alpha female is the only bitch in the pack allowed to reproduce. All members of the pack provide and care for the young. 

Whelping can occur for the dominant female every 11 months, between April and September, with litters of approximately 11 pups. These pups reach sexual maturity at close to 2 years of age, but begin leaving the pack six months before that. Interesting to observe, Wild Dogs have a built-in characteristic to avoid inbreeding and will avoid opposite sex, biological family members even when in close proximity.

Threats

Considering that there are approximately 500 Wild Dogs in the Kruger National Park and a smaller pack in the Waterberg, and that they are considered to be the only viable breeding populations of Wild Dogs left in South Africa, these breeding habits make for poor population growth. Wild Dogs are also notoriously shy animals, who roam over large territories and rarely “claim” land to settle down. This means that habitat loss to farming and development of human infrastructure has largely affected migration patterns for the species; coupled with Lions and Hyenas as the Wild Dogs main enemies, who often kill pack members or steal their food sources and the future for these “painted wolves of Africa” begins to look rather bleak. The past 20 years have also seen their numbers drastically plummet as farmers continue to target and kill Wild Dog populations, out of a feeling of hate for their ruthless hunting methods, or concern for killing livestock. While the number of farmers killing Wild Dogs is on the decline, it is still a concern for the population. As highly sociable creatures, Wild Dogs are known to roam into developed areas and make contact with domestic dogs; this oft times results in illness, distemper and rabies within the susceptible species.

Conservation

It is estimated that less than 6 000 Wild Dogs remain in Africa, with approximately 1 500 mature individuals. Figures across sources fluctuate drastically, due to the difficulty in tracking the species as they roam across large territories. As a result of the declining number of Wild Dogs across Africa, many conservationists and conservation groups have banned together to find ways to re-populate the species and save our “painted wolves of Africa” from extinction.

Wildlife ACT is on a mission to preserve and re-establish the African Wild Dog population in Africa and, in 2017, assisted in sponsoring and releasing eight Wild Dogs into the Kruger National Park. Their projects include monitoring and studying small populations within various nature reserves.



The Endangered Wildlife Trust has sponsored a long-term project, which commenced in 1989, to study and understand these creatures and to use the knowledge gained to improve on strategies to manage the Wild Dog population. Along with this initiative, is their Waterberg Wild Dogs Conservation Project aimed at protecting this young population and landowners, game and the environment the pack calls home.


World Wildlife Fund for Nature is actively seeking ways to expand on Wild Dog’s territories to re-establish the habitat which was previously lost to them; this includes creating buffering zones between reserves and working with private game farms.






This incredible species represents yet another fragment of African heritage, slowly being eroded by human habitat disruption. The “painted wolves of Africa” are such a sight to behold and it would be tragic for their imprint to be lost to the world.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, 0 comments
Mining: What’s the Impact?

Mining: What’s the Impact?

Mining in South Africa is old news; the African continent rests on some of the largest mineral deposits in the world and these deposits are where the country’s wealth lies. Economic studies show that South Africa’s mining activity has seen an incline in recent years and mining for minerals, such as coal, currently makes up over 10% of the economy’s exports. Ngwenya holds environmental conservation dear and all the recent mining-related activity got us to thinking; mining: what’s the impact?

To delve deeper into the industry and particularly to focus on the Ngwenya Lodge surrounding area, we first need to look into coal and its formation. Coal is formed over thousands of years, starting first as decomposable plant material, which is buried by sediment. The initial process results in peat; with the absence of oxygen, plant material cannot decompose completely and thus turns to a fibrous, watery substance. If peat is subjected to further pressure by being layered beneath sediments, lignite forms. Lignite is similar to peat in that traces of plants remain. The third stage of coal formation results in bituminous coal or “soft coal”. This form of coal is used across South Africa as a source of heat energy but is considered lower grade coal. Under extreme pressure and high temperatures, bituminous coal transforms into anthracite or “hard coal”. This form of coal is a high-grade source of heat energy and large deposits of it can be found in the area surrounding Ngwenya Lodge and the Kruger National Park.

It is estimated that approximately 77% of all South Africa’s energy is generated through coal, while 28% of all coal produced is exported.

WHILE AN ARGUMENT CAN BE MADE FOR THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF COAL MINING, THE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, ESPECIALLY NEAR A HERITAGE SITE SUCH AS THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, FAR OUTWEIGHS THE JUSTIFICATION FOR SUCH A MINE


THE IMPACT

1.    Disruption

The formation of a mine so close to the Kruger National Park and in close proximity to farmland and communities will drastically affect the quality of life from the start. Mining machinery and equipment creates noise pollution and has an impact on the roads: increasing traffic, placing risk to other motorists and deteriorating the roads commonly used by tourists and locals. This disruption will affect the Kruger, as well. Wildlife is affected by the noise and air pollution, which could result in diminished numbers of some species that are reliant on the environment, while tourism may see a decline which affects the Park’s ability to maintain standards. Many of these effects last throughout the operation of the mine.

2.    Trauma

As the mine continues to operate the effects deepen. The quality of the air will continue to diminish, as potentially hazardous particles from the mines become airborne and affect the health of human and wildlife populations, alike. Physical destruction to the land can deteriorate the plant life in the area, causing a reduction in the ecosystems which give support to a number of species and which increases the risk of soil erosion. These disruptions not only affect the Park but could cause a collapse in infrastructure as ground movements’ increase.  Mines impact water as well; leaching of heavy metals into groundwater can affect human and animal water-sources, including irrigation for crops and the Crocodile River. Siltation can also occur; a process whereby soil erosion caused by mines loosens sediment, which then travels across water sources and settles on riverbeds. This smothers the riverbed and drastically affects species in the River and the quality of the water source for the species dependant thereon.

A major concern for an area such as the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park is acid mine drainage (or AMD). AMD occurs when exposed rock outcrops from mining activity leach highly acidic sulphur into water sources over prolonged periods of time. This poisonous water contaminates rivers and dams and has detrimental effects on marine life, as well as species making use of the water source. AMD is easily recognisable as coppery or red water.

3.    Scars

Once mining operations cease and the company has extracted the last of the coal, life in the immediate area may never recover. Habitat loss, as a direct result of the destruction to land, affects various species and could critically endanger, or completely eradicate, smaller populations dependent on the ecosystem. Many species are hyper-sensitive to changing environments, which puts them at risk.

These effects only explore what could happen on the surface, should a mine be constructed near Ngwenya Lodge and the Kruger National Park. The extent of the damage could be far worse.

We know, Ngwenya Lodge holds a special place in the hearts of our visitors, as they arrive, each year, to experience the wonders of the South African bush and as we await further news on the current mining application, we will continue to do the best we can to play our part in preserving this rich ecosystem through environmental conservation.

Click here for more information on the current mining application for Tenbosch Farms.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Environmental Conservation, 3 comments
Into The Biome

Into The Biome

Ngwenya Lodge sits comfortably along the winding Crocodile River on the South-Eastern boundary of the Kruger National Park. Being located at prime river-frontage, a major water source for Kruger wildlife makes Ngwenya well-positioned for year-round game-viewing. However, exploring the Kruger National Park on a self-drive or guided tour make for some incredible sightings; even more so when we delve into the biome of the Park and use it to our advantage for spectacular wildlife finds.

The Kruger National Park is classified as a majority Savanna biome.  This biome is characterised by grass-dominant ground coverage and woody vegetation as its upper layer; it also makes up approximately a third of South Africa’s overall biome. The upper layer of woody plants and trees almost never dominates the ground cover; this is attributed to the annual rainfall being relatively low in the area, recorded by 15 rainfall stations throughout the Kruger daily with a mean of 500mm each year. The region experiences its rainy season during the summer months; December, January and February with earth-shattering thunderstorms which are a sight to behold and often studied by international and national students. Wild grasses and shrubs make up the majority of the ground cover and provide an ample grazing ground for a range of antelope, while Acacia trees can be spotted in clusters or alone, and provide an excellent food source for larger game such as giraffe and elephant.

The Kruger National Park can be broken down into eight overlapping ecosystems, all forming a part of the greater Savanna biome, with the Central Grasslands providing the best example of the Savanna. The Northern Sandlands, Mopaneveld and Lebombo ecosystems fall further away from Ngwenya Lodge, but all make for interesting and unique game-viewing drives, should visitors wish to travel further into the Park.

Closer to home however, lies a multitude of ecosystems, each overlapping the next and providing a home to varied species, these are the; Riverine Bush, Thorn Thickets to the East, South Western Foothills, Mixed Broadleaf Woodlands and the Savanna Grasslands heading North.

  • Riverine Bush areas populate the River edges and can thus be found looking from an Ngwenya Lodge chalet patio, or lookout point. The foliage has near year-round access to water, creating a dense cover for species in the area. Commonly found on the floodplains are; elephant, waterbuck, crocodile and occasionally big cats and other game during the drier seasons when water is scarce.
  • Thorn Thickets are located towards the east along the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers and are characterised by large Acacia trees. During the summer months this thicket provides excellent cover for game seeking to wait out the heat of the day, and giraffe can often be found grazing from their favoured food source; the Acacia tree.
  • South Western Foothills make up the area enveloping Pretoriuskop and Berg-en-Dal to the West of Ngwenya Lodge. This area receives the highest rainfall within the Kruger Park and features incredible granite outcrops perfect for looking out over the Lowveld for a refreshment stop.

Nkumbe Lookout Point, Lower Sabie

  • Mixed Broadleaf Woodlands cover Skukuza and surrounds moving west into the National Park. The Woodlands are characterised by a range of Bushwillow trees and provide an excellent opportunity for guests wanting to spot predators. Regular sightings of lion, leopard and hyena are reported in this region.
  • Savanna Grasslands start north of the Sabie River and are a typical example of the Savanna biome; large open spaces covered in wild grasses and the occasional cluster of Acacia trees mark the area. This ample grassy vegetation means that large herds of antelope can be sighted here; zebra, wildebeest and rooibok cover the plains. The area also attracts many predators and cheetah put their speed to good use on the grasslands.

The Kruger National Park offers a wide range of ecosystems to explore and even more species to be sighted; a treasure trove of wildlife experiences. Journey into the biome and discover all this South African landscape has to offer.

Posted by Ngwenya Marketing in Wildlife, 2 comments