Mandundumela – A New Frontier for Game Water Supply By Mr B

Aug 30, 2017 Conservation
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Mandundumela is a unique and very remote area of Hwange – a chunk of land, untouched, wild and free where majestic camelthorns provide shade and comfort for the old elephant bulls. As the grey giants rest, they are taken in and embraced by the beauty and serenity that surrounds these magnificent trees.

Camelthorn at Madundumela

Some 23-odd years ago, the pumping of Mandundumela waterhole came to an end. From that time, until now, 2017, the waterholes of Mandundumela were reliant on the summer rains to fill them, but there was never enough water to make it through to the next year. So, when the hot, dry season unfolded, waterholes eventually dried up. The game and elephant had to leave their beloved home range in search of water and feeding grounds elsewhere.

Thumbs up at 13h00, the pump is on!

An initiative by Wilderness Safaris and people supporting conservation projects, such as generous guests (in this case, Mr Rich Jones of Idaho, USA) and Game Water Supply in Hwange, made it possible for a new borehole to be drilled and a solar pumping unit to be installed at Mandundumela. The borehole was drilled at the end of June 2017 and by the middle of July, the solar unit was in place. Finishing-off work still needed to be done, however: laying a pipeline from the borehole to the waterhole; concrete work at the pumped-water outlet and a trench dug around the solar installation to protect it from possible damage by inquisitive elephant. Assistance for this work was given by Tom Hubbard (Maintenance Department), Charles “Zambezi” Ndlovu (Guide), Chris Dube and myself, Mr B (Game Water Supply) and three strong, contracted men to do the back-breaking work with pick and shovel. We all got stuck in to get the job done, and on the 1st August 2017 all was ready for take-off. At 13h00, I had the privilege of switching on the solar pump inverter and within minutes there was one of the finest sights to see – running water flowing into the dried up waterhole. It was an incredible moment for Game Water Supply – and a great moment for Mandundumela.

The pan, dried up, after the rainy season

After a week of pumping, water fills the pan

On the 7th August, after a week of pumping the waterhole, I went down there to see how events had unfolded during those seven days. I arrived at midday to an awesome sight: water filling the pan, and impala, zebra and elephant drinking, spoor of giraffe and kudu that had been there, and a single blacksmith plover at the water’s edge – a never-to-be-forgotten moment for me. It was so rewarding to see all this, but also to know that something positive and constructive had been done for conservation and to, once again, after so many years, be able to pump and supply water for Mandundumela for the birdlife, wildlife and for the elephant.

Two grey giants drinking from their new local watering spot

It’s not long before word gets around that there’s a new spot in town! Zebra join the party…

Here’s to a great future for this special acre in Hwange National Park.

Until my next story, take care and chin up.

Mr B

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By Mr Willem Botha

Mr Botha, his assistants, his Land Cruiser and all his equipment are out on the Hwange roads every day attending to breakdowns, routine maintenance and refuelling and servicing our pumps and engines to ensure that water is pumped from beneath the Kalahari sands to sustain and give life to our concessions in the great wilderness of Hwange. He says, “Managing the game water supply is like being out on a new frontier; each and every day brings a new experience, a new sighting, a new adventure. I see so much and have so many stories to tell…” Photo © Rachel Lang, Bush-Bound Girl

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Elise van Veen (nee Evans)  Sep 20, 2017

Keep up the great work, Willie! Good to see your face again!