Review of the ecological implications of artificial waterhole closures in the Kruger National Park and the effect thereof on tourism

van Wyk, Louise
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Boreholes in the Kruger National Park (KNP) was at first developed to increase the number of animals that were at low densities because of poaching, diseases, fencing and low permanent water availability. This development of artificial waterholes without managerial measures or knowledge of possible consequence led to negative impacts on the environment. These included that the higher concentration of herbivores around artificial waterholes led to a change in vegetation; secondary vegetation growth did not support the feeding habits of water dependent species; the infiltration rate of water in the soil surrounding waterholes changed and animal distribution patterns also changed, in turn changing the predatory base. Due to the above the KNP developed a new water policy. The policy states that all artificial waterholes that are open should be part of natural ecosystem principles. This led to the closure of many artificial waterholes that did not conform to the requirements of the new water policy. This study aimed to determine the ecological implications of artificial waterholes and whether tourism will be affected by the closure of these artificial waterholes. The following two hypothesis were thus tested in this project: i) Artificial waterholes have ecological implications on the environment. ii) The closure of artificial waterholes will have a negative response from tourists and thus affect tourism to the KNP. The results from this project indicated that both these hypothesises can be accepted as the available literature clearly showed that artificial waterholes do have a negative impact on the environment and that the majority of the tourist questioned asked for the waterholes to be opened again. The latter reaction was mainly due to the tourist‟s concern that the animals will suffer and die without water. Furthermore the visitors are concerned they won‟t see animals anymore. This result can partly be due to the low awareness of the visitors on the subject. No effort was made to communicate these decisions, and the reasons it‟s based on, to the public. Although a certain number of artificial waterholes were closed according to the new KNP policy, it is still important to keep a number open due to fact that KNP is not a natural system. It is suggested however that the closure of the artificial waterholes take place differently, following a principle of rotational opening and closing of patches of waterholes to allow recovery of vegetation and facilitate migration between waterholes. Description: M.Sc.
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Document Type: 
Working Paper
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.