Elephant Plains Gets a Makeover
It seems one of the conversations around the local waterholes this month was about the dredging that took place at Elephant Plains. We watched with eager eyes and wondering minds as mounds of earth were moved, leaving a deeper waterhole for the critters that come to quench their thirst there. The hardest part for Africam cammers? It was watching the waterhole dry up, a necessity in order to make the dredging faster and less work for those involved. Wet clay and dirt is a whole lot heavier than when it’s dry. Frustrated animals came and left as they searched for water in the spot they were familiar with.
The day finally came and we saw the equipment roll into view as it began to take the dirt out. But wait...why were they doing this anyway? Stephen Pieterse, Lodge Manager at Elephant Plains said: “We had decided to clean out the watering hole due to the fact that 2/3 of the watering hole consisted of mud; this meant that only the top 1/3 of the watering hole had drinkable water for the animals.” Ok, that made sense, so we settled in for a couple days of watching the dried up mud be moved out of the way. It sure seemed like a lot of it was taken out. And what did they do with it anyway? We speculated, wondered, and made calculated guesses. In fact, Mr. Pieterse confirmed for us: “The amount of dirt (mud) that was removed from the watering hole was about 20 tons. The dirt that was removed from the watering hole was used in filling up in areas with erosion, roads and river crossings.” Wow...that’s a lot of dirt.
The moving and pushing of dirt was finally completed and the refilling of the waterhole began. What makes a waterhole a waterhole anyway...why doesn’t that water just seep into the ground like it does everywhere else? Mr. Pieterse was kind enough to give us this simple explanation: “The watering hole is set in an area where the soil is mainly clay-based. This prevents the water from seeping away at a rapid rate. The watering hole is natural in the sense that it is just a hole in the ground that retains water but during the winter months when it does not rain we pump water to keep it full.” Speaking of pumping water...keep your eyes on the elephants when they visit the waterhole. Their sense of smell tells them there is fresh water and they often huddle around the area where the pipe from the pump empties out into the waterhole. It doesn’t even have to be on, they smell it and their curiosity brings them back to that area again and again. The Elephant Plains waterhole is now full and the animals have all found it again. They are happy and so are we as we watch them wander by and drink. A big thank you to the folks at Elephant Plains for making sure the watering hole is the best it can be for all the thirsty critters. They appreciate it, and so do we.