Case area in South Africa: the Greater Kruger Area (GKA)

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The GKA is situated in the north-eastern corner of South Africa, delineated by the drainage boundaries of the Crocodile River in the south, the Luvuvhu River in the north, the border between South Africa and Mozambique in the east, and the upper limits of the drainage boundaries of the Crocodile, Sabie, Olifants (including its tributary the Blyde River but excluding the Olifants River Catchment upstream of its confluence with the Blyde River), Letaba and Luvuvhu Rivers in the west. The rationale for excluding the upper Olifants catchment is that it falls within a completely different geo- climatic region compared to the other rivers within the study area, and is therefore not representative of the study area. However, for assessing the potential for biodiversity features associated with the lower reaches of the Olifants River to persist, the influence of the Olifants catchment upstream of the study area was considered. In addition to the five perennial rivers that flow through the KNP, two seasonal drainage systems that are largely contained within the park, namely the Shingwidzi River (located between the Luvhuvhu and Letaba rivers) and the Nwanedzi River (located between the Olifants and Sabie rivers), were also included in this study.

The total study area (including the KNP) covers an area of 56,937 km2, with 18,907 km2 (33.2 %) falling within the Kruger National Park. The KNP has an average west to east width of 60 km, spans a distance of 350 km from south to north and has a 1,050 km boundary. All of the perennial rivers that form part of this study arise in mountainous terrain outside the KNP and flow through the park in an easterly direction.

It is worthwhile to note that these rivers are of major importance as sources of water for sustaining the heterogeneity and ecosystem processes in the KNP (Gaylard et al. 2003). However, most of the catchment areas and river lengths associated with these rivers fall outside the KNP’s boundaries, and the KNP management only has indirect control over the quality and quantity of water that reaches the KNP. This leaves the KNP vulnerable to the many different activities that take place outside its area of jurisdiction.

The Greater Kruger area is important from a livelihood and biodiversity perspective as the region differs biogeographically from north to south and scientifically this provides an interesting variety to of phenomena to observe. – Also, there is a large range in social conditions in the area. The study area includes rural areas (including former Apartheid homelands), small and large towns, as well as large areas on natural vegetation. Major land uses include urban, subsistence, irrigated agriculture, mining and industry, grazing and conservation. – From a governance perspective the whole study area is in South Africa but the rivers are shared with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. – The area is reasonably well studied and a large range of both ecological, social and economic data exists. The CSIR is currently busy with a multi-year, multi-million rand project in the study area from which large amounts of data can be drawn. A full list of project experience and data in the region and be provided. – The CSIR is currently busy with a multi-year, multi-million rand project in the study area from which large amounts of data can be drawn. – Understanding the role freshwater biodiversity plays in ecological processes and functionality, and how this contributes to ecosystem services for human well-being – Using Kruger National Park to test selected systematic conservation principles and policy options – Test validity of heterogeneity signatures and various spatial classifications as surrogates of freshwater biodiversity – Adding a groundwater dimension to pattern delineation and process conservation – A number of CSIR staff have worked in the region and have established networks with a number of organisations; government, NGO, water user associations, conservation and Communities.

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