When the wilderness is caught off guard by an unusually brutal slap of nature, like last week’s floods in the Kruger Park region, the devastation and misfortune is well apparent. Watch some video footage of last week’s flood events.
Fortunately there have been no reports of fatalities, although there was a close shave for a group of international guests who were out on a game drive when their car washed away. But thanks to the interventions of rescuers, the holiday-makers were airlifted to safety and treated in Nelspruit.
According to SA National Parks CEO David Mabunda, 80 people – 10 staff and 70 tourists – were rescued over a four-day period. Rescue operations took place chiefly in areas that had become cut off from exit routes.
What about the aninmals? Some become displaced during such extreme interruption to their environment – like the black mamba that showed up in the lounge at Rhino Post Safari Lodge, just looking for a little dry corner, no doubt. During the 2000 floods, I remember stories about a croc that had arrived in the water-washed dining room of a badly damaged lodge. A case of Dinner for One, I should think …
Watching videos of ellies struggling to cross the Olifants River, one wonders how skillfully our wildlife are able to negotiate the havoc wreaked on the environment. Anyone have some knowledge to share?
Damage to roads, bridges and dams has been significant, and some of the private lodges have had a good deal of damage. Those lodges enjoying scenic locations beside what were formerly little streams, have felt the full force of the floods. Several lodges have closed for repairs so that they can re-instate their blue-chip safaris in South Africa’s most famous game park.
Flash floods seriously test the resilience of the ecosystem. They can also step up the breeding of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, with the likelihood of increased malaria transmission.
But what of the positive throwbacks of a freak flood such as this one? Times Live mentions several positives: previously dry areas become hydrated, while sediments and invasive plants are eliminated. Aquatic creatures are granted unusual opportunities for recolonising. In short, “events like this recharge the environment,” says SANParks CEO Mabunda.
And there may also be a spin-off for tourism, he reckons, because people are fundamentally curious, and when disaster strikes, many people come to feel familiarised with an area they may not previously have thought about very much. The law of averages, he says, is that strange events usually bring more visitors. Read more
Our solidarity is with all those in the region who are totting up the damages, whilst already energetically rebuilding and repairing lodges and infrastructure.