Work has begun on the rehabilitation of the Langtoon Dam, situated in the north-eastern part of the Kruger National Park (KNP). Coenie Coetser of technical services in Kruger and Vlakteplaas section ranger, Reckson Seane, met on site on March 31, for the first dig. Coenie says the technical team broke a trench through the 1140 metre dam wall as a pathway to drain some of the water. At the same time, they began working the soil away from the ‘back' of the wall and into a deeper hollow in the dam, created during its construction.
The water will eventually be replaced by the soil. The entire operation will cost in the region of R3.5 million, estimated before the two recent massive fuel hikes, but the rehabilitation is set to be completed in phases of which the first is scheduled to be finished at the end of May 2008.
According to Henk Meyer, a former KNP technical services staff member, the approximately 120 000 cubic metre dam was built in the late 1970s at a cost of about R120 000. Danie Pienaar, head of scientific services in the park, says there were two main reasons for the rehabilitation of the Langtoon Dam.
Firstly, in terms of the joint management plan of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the three member countries, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, will not have any man-made water-retaining structures in a 10 kilometre zone on either side of the borders. Langtoon dam falls within this zone.
"We have applied the same principles in our overall zoning plan for Kruger which can be seen in our attempt to link wilderness areas across borders," says Danie. In addition, huge dams are not a natural occurrence in that area. The stream feeding the Langtoon Dam begins in Kruger – all impacts on the watercourse originate and occur within the park. The area borders on the sandveld in the north and is a naturally dry region. The aim is to restore the area to its natural state, with only the stream and natural pools retained as sources of water.
According to the dictionary of place names Langtoon Dam partly got its name from the long dam wall which was built so long because the area was so flat, and also because of the African jacana wading bird which also has long toes.