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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Rivers in Kruger National Park now rising again

Despite a break in the heavy downpours river levels were rising quickly once again due to solid rainfall in the Kruger Park’s catchment areas


Despite heavy rains leading to flooding at the southern end of the Kruger National Park (KNP) in and around the Crocodile Bridge area, people still remained optimistic.

KNP spokesperson Ike Phaahla said it had been raining heavily in the park since last week.

“On Thursday at 2am we were on high alert after we received warnings about the weather and met with the disaster management team to put our plan in action to handle the looming problems,” he said.

Water levels

And despite a break in the heavy downpours on Saturday, by yesterday river levels were rising quickly once again due to solid rainfall in the park’s catchment areas along the various rivers.

The South African Weather Service had predicted significant to severe rainfall from yesterday until late tonight.

Phaahla noted an evacuation operation was underway to assist guests at Lower Sabie, Talamati, Crocodile Bridge and Biyamiti with available safe passage out of the park.

While the Crocodile River had dropped by about half a meter, by yesterday evening it was flowing just under the bridge again.

On Friday, Lukimbi Safari Lodge guests had the experience of a lifetime when a KNP helicopter evacuated them. And as people and staff worked together to mitigate the impact of the rain, work behind the scenes did not stop.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Kruger Park warns visitors of closed roads and flooded bridges

Rhino poaching

The South African National Park’s (SANParks) said yesterday the KNP had had a “bitter-sweet” victory.

 “To say that the past few days have been hectic for KNP management and team is an understatement. Rangers were not exempt from playing vital roles in managing the floods,” it said. “However, they did not lose sight of their key responsibility – conserving nature at all cost and fighting the ongoing scourge of rhino poaching.

They kept their ears on the ground for any criminal activity while managing a natural disaster.” On Saturday afternoon, field rangers stopped a vehicle driven by a colleague in full uniform following good intelligence.

“Their search revealed two suspected poachers hidden under the tarpaulin cover with a bag containing supplies and poaching equipment. A suspected hunting rifle was revealed by forensic experts upon their arrival and after searching the vehicle,” SANParks said.

Arrests

The three suspects were detained and handed over to the Skukuza Police Station. “Criminals must be aware security is still tight despite the weather conditions and Ranger Services are on high alert helping guests and safeguarding our rhinos.”

Precautions

Phaahla warned guests against getting out of their vehicles in the Kruger National Park.

“This is still a park with wild animals,” he said, urging them to call the emergency centre for help.

He said people were getting stuck on dirt roads which had barriers removed. For many, being stuck before the roads were closed meant once a ranger arrived to keep an eye on things, they were allowed to alight from the vehicles and push, pull, or tow stuck vehicles.

It is prohibited to alight from one’s vehicle unless under very tightly controlled circumstance. The KNP Facebook page’s advise on cancelled bookings, which roads were closed, and where to go and how to get there, is prolific.

KNP and SANParks have also been updating their pages regularly, with wide praise for their help and keeping people informed on social media.

ALSO READ: Weather: Brace yourselves for another wet week