Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Botswana: Boreholes, watering pans in the works for national park

Botswana: Boreholes Rescue Makgadikgadi Pans Wildlife

Monkagedi Gaotlhobogwe
Mmegi
9 November 2009

The provision of 12 boreholes and artificial watering pans for the wildlife at a national park in the vast Makgadikgadi Pans is expected to improve the quality of wildlife and tourism activities in the area.

Last year the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS), started construction of 12 solar pumped boreholes in the area to provide for the wildlife during the dry season.

The project, co-sponsored by the government of Botswana and Tiffany Foundation comes at a time when the demands on water in the area have also grown with increased population of elephants and other wildlife species, as well as growth in tourism.

KCS chief executive officer (CEO) Felix Monggae says the pans contain large numbers of wildlife that migrate between the grasslands to the east during the rainy season and the Boteti River on the western boundary in the dry season. "The only dry season water lies along the Boteti River onto which water dependent species congregate.

The provision of wildlife water supplies was fundamental to the survival of the national park," he told the Monitor.

Monggae says historically the Boteti River was the main source of surface water for wildlife during dry spells but the river dried up in 1991, threatening wildlife resources in the pans.

He said during the 2004-6 the eastern boundary of the Park along the Boteti River was fenced thus severely limiting the sources of water available to wildlife. "More recently the remaining pools of surface water within the Boteti have deteriorated in quality and the survival of the migratory ungulates was being undermined. The aim of the project is to develop artificial watering points in order to provide water for wildlife in the pans during the dry season," Monggae explained to the Monitor.

The KCS project involved the development of 10 new boreholes, two new river extraction points as well as the enhancement of two existing river extraction points adjacent to the Boteti River:

Twelve solar-powered pumps, as well as 12 artificially enhanced watering points were also installed for the new water abstraction points.

Large ungulates occurring at Makgadikgadi include zebra, wildebeest, elephant, springbok, gemsbok, giraffe, kudu, steenbok, duiker, hartebeest and ostrich. Hippos were found in a pool in the Boteti River.

The large zebra and wildebeest migration is seen as one of the most important ecological processes in the park. Buffaloes were common along the Boteti but these were removed and the last herd of 41 animals was relocated into the Delta as part of disease control measures in 1999 , according to the KCS boss.

"It is a unique and fragile ecosystem, which supports some of the country's last truly migratory wildlife, notably the zebra and wildebeest. Predators such as lions and brown hyena inhabit the region along with a rich array of bird life, including the rare Wattled Crane."

http://allafrica.com/stories/200911091624.html

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