As dry conditions persist, South African National Parks (SANParks) adopted principles to develop drought preparedness plans for affected parks.
SANParks recognizes that in the face of a drought, there is no one- size fits all solution. Different parks require different approaches and innovative and adaptable plans will be developed to be activated as and when the need arises. These include appropriate artificial water provision that are well considered and won’t be detrimental to plants and animals.
River management plans are in place in some parks and engagements are envisaged between water user associations and catchment management agencies, for water releases from dams upstream from parks. Awareness campaigns are already underway to inform SANParks staff of the drought situation along with ways to conserve water in staff villages. In some parks, water restrictions have already been in place for some time. The design of information to inform tourists on water wise usage as well as the potential impacts of the drought is already underway.
Fire management plans will be informed by currently prevailing and future predicted conditions for the coming season. In line with good management principles, wildlife removals may be necessary in some of the smaller parks in order to protect the vegetation from over utilisation. SANParks will continue to inform stakeholders of its principles and management actions as the dry conditions continue.
Support for communities
SANParks Chief Executive Officer Fundisile Mketeni emphasized the readiness of the conservation agency to deal with drought related problems saying” We are going to do all in our power to support and enable communities adjacent to the parks we manage, whose livelihoods will be vulnerable during this period, it also needs to be emphasized that droughts have an important part to play in reorganising how many and where animals and plants occur and that means animals and plants will die, however this does not mean that SANParks will be apathetic to animal welfare” said Mketeni.
Tourists and visitors to parks are urged to continue using water sparingly and observing water restrictions wherever they occur and not to feed animals when on holiday. SANParks also reassured visitors of supply of fresh water in the rest camps, picnic sites and day visitor centres so that they can have fun and enjoy their hard earned holidays.