Greater Kruger becomes even greater
This year looks to be a good year for the growth of Greater Kruger - fences are being dropped east and west of the Kruger National Park. Weighty negotiations between nations have resulted in the concept of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, and this year a section of the fence between Kruger and the adjoining million hectare Mozambican Limpopo National Park will be dropped. With no less political manoeuvring and probably more years of negotiations, another section of fence is being dropped to allow 35,000ha of land to be incorporated into the other side of the Greater Kruger National Park.
Balule Private Nature Reserve and the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) of Klaserie, Timbavati and Umbabat have come to an agreement this April after the members of Klaserie Private Nature Reserve voted to remove the Balule fence earlier in the year. Teams of workers from Balule and Klaserie have set to work with gusto, removing over seven kilometres of fence in just three days. About 24km of fence stood between the APNR and Balule, and with the removal of this a section of the tar road between Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa will effectively become one of the western edges of the Kruger National Park.
This will not affect visitors to Kruger, but animals can now make their way unhindered over a greater area of land. Klaserie warden Colin Rowles said, "This is of major ecological benefit to both sides" adding that the removal of the fence can relieve environmental stresses by allowing animals to travel to better grazing areas. This season's patchy rainfall has produced corresponding patchy veld conditions, and the removal of the fence will allow for greater animal movements. Rowles said that it would be interesting to monitor the animal movements. "We hope to pick up changes with our annual census in September." He mentioned wildebeest as one species that they were particularly interested in monitoring.
Balule Nature Reserve is made up of several individually-managed but unfenced reserves on both sides of the Olifants River, but has a general constitution governing the whole reserve. The sub-units include the Greater Olifants River Conservancy, Olifants West Game Reserve, York Game Reserve, Parsons Game Reserve, Olifants North Game Reserve and Grietjie Game Reserve. The APNR dropped its fences with Kruger in 1994, adding about 140,000ha of ground for animals to traverse over. Prior to this, the Timbavati and Umbabat had dropped fences in 1988, and the Timbavati and Klaserie dropped their internal fence in 1992.