Pollution impacts on the aquatic ecosystems of the Kruger National Park, South Africa

Eddie S. Riddell of the South African National Parks, Kruger National Park, Skukuza, and Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa conducted this research to discuss the impact of pollution on the aquatic ecosystems of the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

The Kruger National Park (KNP) is a savanna ecosystem situated in the middle reaches of five large, dynamic and biologically diverse transboundary river systems. The KNP has been at the forefront of applied river ecosystems research for over 30 years. Meanwhile each of its rivers has a unique set of challenges from both a river flow and water quality management perspective. These have often arisen from anthropogenic changes in the catchments of the park. The resultant challenges give rise to an array of effects that bear upon the parks’ ability to maintain the viability of aquatic ecosystems in a large and bio-diverse landscape.

His paper sets the scene through a synopsis of the investments made by the KNP to improve river management practices and the present status-quo of these aquatic systems. Moreover, it details through particular case studies where emergent impacts of diffuse pollution sources have affected the aquatic biotic processes within the park and downstream.

Issues are framed within a conservation management context with respect to broad ecosystem health and species of conservation concern. Comparisons are also made to other aquatic ecosystems within the KNP where the impacts of diffuse pollution effects are as yet unapparent.