Welcome to the Fifth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In the article, we will be focusing on the Waterberg Environment. This article is part of a two part series. The first article focused on the Waterberg Biosphere, and this second article will focus on the climate, ecology and other aspects of the Biosphere.
Shakati Private Game Reserve is situated close to the Marakele National Park and other private nature reserves and game farms in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. This makes it important to preserve the wildlife and nature in the areas there is a future vision to expand the Marakele National Park to include other game reserves (same principal as the Dinokeng Nature reserve close to Hammanskraal). These combined efforts of the multiple game reserves will ensure that nature conservation is taken to a new level, which will positively affect the fragile Waterberg Biosphere ecosystem.
Shakati is a portion of the old farm Jacobsdal and is approximately 625 hectares in extent. The farm is situated within the Mokolo river catchment area approximately 20 km north-west of Vaalwater and the Mokolo River flow through the farm towards north-west, where it later goes through Mokolo dam and then joins Limpopo River. Shakati lies at an altitude of about 1100 above sea level. (By comparison, Pretoria at 1400-1550m).
Image Source: http://en-za.topographic-map.com/places/Limpopo-4033612
Shakati/Waterberg: Geomorphology and Geology
Shakati comprises a mixture of grassy plains, low, wooded rocky hills and steep cliffs, with soil cover being quite sandy and thin apart from a few areas.
The geology of the region consists of a sequence of mainly sedimentary rocks varying in total thickness from 1500m to as much as 7000m. Some volcanic units occur at the base of the sequence, near Alma. This impressive succession is known collectively as the Waterberg Group of rocks, and has been dated as being of paleo-Proterozoic age, that is, between 2.0 and 1.6 billion years ago. The characteristic reddish colour of the Waterberg sediments is due to the presence of iron oxides, which in turn could only have been formed in the presence of free oxygen.
Interesting fact: The underlying rock formation (base of the Waterberg) comes from the Kaapvaal Craton, which were an island roughly 2.7 billion years ago. The Waterberg Super group consists of rocks that were pushed upwards in an 250,000 square kilometres range.
The landscape of the Waterberg District is a unique feature that distinguishes it from any other place in South Africa. There are four main landscape features in the Waterberg District, namely the Waterberg Plateau, the Transvaal Plateau Basin, the Pietersburg Plain and the Limpopo Depression (www.eonvironment.gov.za)
Shakati, which is situated in the Waterberg Biosphere, has a pleasant climate for most of the year and enjoys warm summers (28-35 degree C) and mild winters (5-20 degree C). Most importantly, Shakati has almost all year-round sunshine.
Rainfall, mainly in the form of thundershowers, occurs predominantly during the summer months of November to March. Thunderstorms usually occur during late afternoons and usually last short and the Waterberg Biosphere experiences between five and seven lightning strikes per year per 100 ha. During the summer months there are some days where a light drizzle can occur, which is needed for the ecosystem. The Waterberg Biosphere has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September. On average, the warmest month is January, and the coolest month is July. The wettest month is November and the driest month is July.
Shakati Private Game reserve has identified over 120 species of trees/shrubs and 30 species of grasses on the farm so far, although there are undoubtedly more to be recognised. In parts of the farm, the current vegetation is a consequence of areas having been cleared for crop farming in the past, or of overgrazing by cattle, with the result that pioneer species of trees, shrubs and grasses are better represented than would be the case in undisturbed veld. Some exotic or invader species has been identified on the property, but are now being eradicated through systematic excavation. Shakatis Territory can thus be classified as Bushveld with a mixture of Savannahs, Bushveld and Sourveld
The Bushveld can be described as an open savanna of tall straight Faurea saligna trees in a tall, tufted, wiry, sour grassveld in the less rocky parts, a dense mixed bushveld in the rugged parts. It is beautiful country, but hot in spite of its altitude. The soil is of a sandy, rubbly nature.” (Acocks, 1988 p.55).
Shakati Private Game reserve contains sourveld areas; which consist of grasses with a higher fibre content and which tend to translocate their nutrients to their roots during winter. They are therefore less palatable, have a lower level of winter nutrition and a lower carrying capacity. The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, (which includes Shakati), the Soutpansberg and parts of the Magaliesberg are areas defined as sour bushveld, although sourveld grasses extend over a much wider area of South Africa.
The Waterberg Biosphere is a Malaria Free zone, according to the South African National Institute for communicable diseases. Isolated cases have been identified, but it primarily believed that those mosquitoes travelled with the tourists from Mozambique and Zimbabwe
Image Source: (http://www.nicd.ac.za/?page=alerts&id=5&rid=330)
Acocks, JPH (1988): Veld Types of South Africa (3rd Edition). Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of SA, No. 57. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
Bothma, J du P (2002): Game Ranch Management (4th Edition). Van Schaik, Pretoria.
Grant, R & Thomas, V (2000): Sappi Tree Spotting: Bushveld. Jacana, Johannesburg.
Low, AB & Rebelo, AG (eds) (1998): Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland (2nd Edition). Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Pretoria.
Tainton, NM (ed) (1999): Veld Management in South Africa. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
Tyson, PD & Preston-Whyte, RA (2000): The Weather and Climate of Southern Africa (2nd Edition). Oxford University Press, Cape Town.
Chamberlain, B (2006) A veld assessment to determine the grazing capacity on the Shakati game farm.
Du Plessis (2006) Evaluation and Management Plan for Shakati