Feast and Famine
A Kruger Park drought, and great rivers are dwindling.
A Kruger drought means animals will die but in the cycle of nature, others will live. Having not been into the Park for some weeks, we expected a hushed and desolate vista and found, to our delight, a landscape rich with a different kind of beauty.
And the heat goes on
It is one of the driest rainy seasons on record and all around, the parched land lies silent and barren, panting in the relentless heat of a brutal sun.
They – the white-coated men who predict such things – tell us it is El Nino.
The change in ocean temperatures has had a dramatic effect on weather everywhere but this El Nino is one of the strongest ever recorded and is still strengthening.
Here, most rain falls between October and March, but an active El Nino stops the prospect of decent rainfall for the coming months.
People say, it’s the under sea nuclear testing that makes this kind of “El Nino.”
Me Clever, you Jane
In a dying riverbed, a herd of elephants demonstrate their survival skills digging holes next to the last remaining pool of stagnant water. Here they can reach clear sweet water filtering through the sand. This wonderful symbiosis allows less capable animals to access clean water away from desperate crocodiles. There are many elephants all over this area of the Kruger. Drought has forced them to utilize these innate, instinctual abilities.
Is it hidden or out of sight?
The savanna is worn and threadbare with patches of bare earth. Small groups of animals seeking relief from the Kruger drought, gather under single trees that dot the landscape. But the emptiness reveals those hidden things which often go unseen – like these remains of a giraffe – normally veiled by long grass.
Many hippos have died
Up on the bank of another dwindling river, lies the vast carcass of a hippo. The staves of its ribs resemble the wreck of some enormous boat, handy perches for the vultures cleaning the bones of the last useful scraps of food.
Opportunity makes its own way
The Kruger drought has caused the rivers to diminish; but the proliferation of game belies the crisis. Impala, wildebeest and zebra young are everywhere. Waterbuck congregate at the remaining pools and with such an abundance of potential food, lions are easily seen hanging around the water’s edge.
It’s a crisis and a tragedy
In the mud flats created by the emptying riverbeds, birds such as herons, storks and other waders profit from the abundance of exposed foods. This river, the mighty Crocodile, has been reduced by the Kruger drought to a thin ribbon of slowly trickling water on only one side. And the water pumps that supply water for the fruit and sugar plantations and their communities can no longer pump…