It would appear from the fly over before the count and what they managed to observe, that the northern end of the park seems to be holding its own and water is good up that end of the park, thanks to some good, late rains. Unfortunately, we had had notification from Sinamatella before the count that there was no water in camp and the people who went down there, met up with Stephen Long, Mafa and the water team who had been working tirelessly for days trying to get the situation rectified before all the counters moved in.
The ZINWA workers had to be collected and returned to Hwange town each day, adding an extra burden on time as well as the cost of fuel. Water was restored to camp although it took a while before all the lodges could benefit apparently.
On their trip they visited as many pans as they could and were pleased to note that some of the natural pans that had been scooped were still holding a small amount of water. You will see from our game count information later on that Mandavu and Masuma were looking good as was Baobab.
|Fast facts: Hwange National Park|
|Area||14 651 sq. km|
|Established itself as a National Park||1961|
|Number of man-made waterholes in the park||63 which pump calcium rich waters to the surface from 60 meters below ground level|
|Length of game viewing road network connecting waterholes||Approx. 480 km|
They called in to Camp Hwange which still has an incredibly large swampy area before getting to the lodge, obviously a favoured place for Spurwinged geese as well as Grey Crowned Cranes. The pan in front of their lounge area was looking good too and they have been assisting with pumping at Shumba as well as getting the windmill there up and running again with assistance from Stephen Long. Shumba pan was looking its best for some time so grateful thanks to Dave Carsens and his team. I was also told that they are helping Robins with diesel for Deteema dam. Danga held very little water as did Shapi and there was no water at White Hills. Mabuya Mabena had a little water although the windmill there is not working.
Garakamwe is definitely the vulture spa as we always come across vultures gathered there and this time was no exception with plenty of white backed vultures bathing, wings outstretched to dry. Kaoshe had very good water, Tshabema nothing and Tshebe Tshebe just a little. Balla Balla is still holding a little water after having been scooped earlier in the year.
As some of you might know, they have had a borehole rig in the park for a few weeks now. Work was done at Manga One which was cleaned out to around 80 metres and pumping was in progress. However, large numbers of elephant were milling about with plenty more in the tree lines so it is a battle keeping up. Manga Two was looked at but unfortunately, too much had become jammed down the hole to be able to assist Parks with this site. Manga Three is pumping well thanks to Somalisa, African Bush Camps. The rig had moved on to Ngweshla where, once again, the same as at Manga Two, it was found that the six inch casing reduced to five inch casing at a depth of approximately 52 metres and items had become jammed over the years.
As Ngweshla is such a crucial hole, it was decided to leave things as they are for now but a new borehole will need to be considered at some stage. There is still quite a lot of water in the main pan at Ngweshla and pumping continues sporadically into the pan nearer the picnic site. The rig then moved on to Masuma. At least three pumps had been burnt out due to the hole pumping sand. Through investigation, it was discovered that there was a hole in the casing and sand was coming in with the main source of water. This hole has been cleared to the bottom and a plan has been devised to stop sand coming in with the water so all is well there for now.
There had been problems with the engine at Sinanga so that held very little water, Kennedy One and Kennedy Two had some water and the Makwa engine has been struggling to keep up so the water there was the lowest it has been for some time. When they visited Guvelala, the engine was not in operation so this was reported to Owen Mangwana. So, as you can see, water down the southern end continues to be a major headache and along with all the usual breakdowns and borehole problems, Parks are continually running out of diesel. The water warden does not have a reliable vehicle and is very often without any form of transport, relying on Gary more and more to deploy the water teams, pull up pipes, fix pumps, deliver fuel, you name it.
Date: 29 September 2013