Update from Hwange National Park June 2017
- 2/8/2017 <--Prev : Next-->
Dear Friends of Hwange
After anticipating a pretty harsh winter, the weather has so far been rather mild, and only the last two weeks have been uncomfortably cold in the early mornings but the days are glorious as usual. We have so far not had any of the bad frosts usually experienced on and around the vlei lines. The grass has become dry and brittle, and will be a hazard when the inevitable fires start around the park. Water in the pans is generally excellent, and there is still a lot of standing water in many areas from the rains. This will help enormously in getting us through the dry season.
We have been very busy burning fireguards starting with the section from the Mpofu entrance gate down to Broken rifle. We then progressed to the worst section through to the Mambanje River. The dongas, hills and rocks here make it hugely difficult to grade without breaking equipment. The grass is very tall and abundant and it is imperative that the firebreak here is done properly as this is where the most devastating fires usually start. The twin firebreaks from Matoa down to the Shapi tar - about 60 km - have been completed. These were not burned last year, so the bush encroachment was severe with many fallen trees, and it was back breaking work. Of note is that there is still plenty of water in the natural pans in the Mopane forest in that area, and an abundance of game. Parks staff have started a little work on firebreaks now too, but are struggling with strong winds, and the fact that some of the grass is still green and does not burn very well. Parks were donated some very good equipment from WWF for fire fighting, and for clearing of fireguards in the form of a disc harrow which is proving very effective. The loop road from Main Camp through to the White Hills junction has been graded by the FOH tractor to remove the thick grass from the edges of the road, and it now forms an effective firebreak.
Large groups of elephant have returned to enjoy the huge crop of Acacia Erioloba pods this season, but they're bound to spread out again when water becomes scarce. There is also lots of plains game to be seen, in particular many sightings of Sable Antelope. There are also several large herds of buffalo around and about.
All the pans are either full or near full. A solar pump at Dopi pan was put out of action by a lightning strike earlier in the year, but this has been repaired and is once again working well. One of the solar pumps at Kennedy 2 and another at Nweshla also stopped pumping, but these were minor issues and have been successfully dealt with. Garakamwe and Sinanga Pans are both as full as we have ever seen them, and Nyanandhovu at capacity too. There are a lot of elephants using Kennedy 1 pan as well as the pan on The Hide concession at present.
As always, we extend heartfelt gratitude to all our donors and supporters in helping us carry out vital work in the park, and without whom we would not achieve what we do.
Trustees - Friends of Hwange Trust.