Having received weather reports from various news stations and channels, we prepared ourselves for Cyclone Eloise. A long story short after three days of continuous rain, we clocked up over 150mm. Other than the obvious benefit of the rain greening and thickening up the bush even further, an amount of water like this has benefitted the land in many different ways.
The Sand River came down in flood. Extreme amounts of water flowing like this allows the river to clean itself out of debris and stagnant water, fill empty pools and carry nutrients that will be absorbed by the riparian vegetation.
At the moment, everywhere you drive on the reserve has water available for the plants and wildlife. The water table is extremely high, meaning that there is a lot stored just beneath the surface allowing roots of plants, trees and grass to access moisture for months to come.
It’s a very similar case for the animals. Every waterhole/pan is full. This plays an important role in ensuring animals remain wide spread throughout the reserve. Wildlife will now not be forced to congregate around the usual water sources that form their lifelines during the dry season. Congregations of large herbivores in particular around these around water sources can lead to serious impact on the vegetation; trees push down by elephants and overgrazed soils can result, increasing erosion and having long-term impact.
The rangers at Londolozi get extremely excited for a rare occasion like this. We take joy in viewing formerly dry river beds and drainage lines now flowing with fresh rain water. The Manyelethi river in the northern parts of Londolozi only ever flows at the height of the rainy season during the wettest years, and although it’s impressively beautiful driving on the banks of the dry river with giant granite rocks catching your view, there’s something even more thrilling now watching a clear stream of water flow amongst the dark boulders.
With the bush being as beautiful as it is at moment and the elephants and rhinos splashed with mud, it’s not just the visuals that are pleasing our senses.
It’s the symphony of breeding frogs, calling birds and the tranquility of the flowing streams that’s drawing us to be out there for every minute we can.