Toxic Spill Threatens Kruger National Park, South Africa’s Biggest Game Reserve

kruger national park
Elephants meander along the Olifants River in Kruger National Park. Creative Commons/poo-tee-weet


South Africa’s department of water and environmental affairs has laid criminal charges against a fertilizer producer whose tailings dam overflowed in the final days of 2013, sending toxic water into Kruger National Park, South Africa’s biggest game reserve and most-popular natural attraction.


South Africa National Parks, or SANParks, officially acknowledged the spill earlier this week, saying that highly acidic water from an impoundment dam at Bosveld Phosphate’s fertilizer manufacturing plant near Kruger’s Phalaborwa entrance had contaminated a 9 mile (15 kilometer) stretch of the Selati River and was spreading. SANParks said Kruger staff detected the toxic spill on Dec. 30 after a tip-off by a local fisherman who had witnessed a “massive” fish kill.


“Heavy rains in Phalaborwa over the weekend of 28 to 29 December contributed to the overflow of the tailings dam. This resulted in highly acidic water being discharged directly into the Selati River just upstream of its confluence with the Olifants River,” SANParks noted. “The Selati River is an important tributary of the Olifants River, arguably the most environmentally stressed major river system in South Africa, and an important shared watercourse with Mozambique.”[Read more]