25 juni, 2011

The history of the Balule Nature Reserve.

How the Balule Nature Reserve was created.
In the early 1990’s various landowners in the present Balule Nature Reserve came to appreciate the need to drop fences between their properties.
 These properties, most of them inherited and used for gamefarming in the widest spectrum, were not viable as cattlefarms. In the past –before the western boundary fence of the Kruger Park was erected in 1961 –  an annual migration took place between the Kruger and the private farms on the west, mainly of zebra and wildebeest.
Zebra and wildebeest, often seen together.

When this fence was removed in 1993, the old migration
did not re-establish itself, probably because there were nog longer any surviving animals in the Kruger Park populations that had retained the migratory behaviour and, more likely, the APNR (Associaton of Private Nature Reserves –of which Balule is one-) was no longer an attractive habitat for wildebeest and zebra.
By removing the fences between the farms in Balule the animal gene pool was extended, overgrazing was avoided and it allowed for movement of animals over a far greater area. The very absence of fences was aesthetically pleasing to landowners and the shared animals meant that game that had never been seen in a particular area was now present.

By the end of the decade, almost all the landowners had voluntarily joined in this venture. The hunting was curtailed and the animals became less skittish. With the presence of game-vehicles bearing tourists armed only with photographic equipment, the animals became relaxed and were photographed regularly.
Big male lion, seen in the York Nature Reserve on a game-drive.

The two reserves to the east between Balule and the Kruger Park are Olifants Game Reserve and Klaserie Game Reserve. The fence between Kruger and Klaserie Game Reserve came down first and the Kruger authorities soon realized that this was the way to go. It was recognized that the fence on the tar road between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit was the obvious place to have the western boundary of Kruger Park. Once all the fences were correctly equipped with high voltage capacities and as soon as the authorities were satisfied that Balule was ready for incorporation, it was a matter of months before the fences were removed between the Klaserie and Olifants Game Reserves. Balule was thus incorporated into the most famous Game Reserve in the world. An impressive 40 000 hectares were added to Kruger Park!

The Balule Nature Reserve is situated in the Limpopo province, South-Africa. Southwest of Phalaborwa, and north, northeast of Hoedspruit. The Olifants River flows for about 20 kilometers through the center of the reserve. Balule forms –together with the other private reserves- the Greater Kruger Park ecosystem. Because all fences are dropped the animals are allowed to roam freely between the Kruger Park and the private reserves on its western boundaries.
Large numbers of lion, cheetah, leopard as well elephant, buffalo and rhino now move freely between Balule and the western border of the Kruger Park. More then 250 bird species occur in the area.
Beautiful colored: the Lilac Breasted Roller.

Balule is located in the subtropical lowveld. Because the lowveld has different eco-zones there is a variety in the flora, where trees dominate the bushveld. The Kruger park alone has 336 tree species and the Big-5 under trees are:
  • Baobab
  • Fever tree
  • Knobthorn
  • Marula
  • Mopani
  • Typical lowveld acacia tree: the Knobthorn.

Balule Nature Reserve figures and facts.

The Balule Nature Reserve  (BNR) is located in the south-east of the Limpopo province.

BNR  is a registered member of the Assocation of Private Nature Reserves (APNR) which are the Private Nature Reserves (Timbavati-Klaserie-Umbabat-Balule) bordering the Kruger National Park.

The total size of the APNR is approximately 185,000 hectares.
BNR consists of several autonomous game reserves:

  • Olifants West Nature Reserve.
  • York Nature Reserve.
  • Parsons Nature Reserve.
  • Grietjie Nature Reserve.
  • Olifants North.
  • Olifants West -Balule- entrance gate.

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