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The Selati River clean-up begins

By Dr Tony Swemmer (SAEON Ndlovu Node) and Thembi Marshall (SANParks)

The SAEON Ndlovu Node has been monitoring the quality of the water in the Selati River for over four years. The Selati rises on the rugged western slopes of the Wolkberg Mountains, part of the Drakensberg Mountain chain. From its source in this high rainfall zone in Limpopo Province, the river flows roughly eastward for approximately 140 kilometres before joining the Olifants River some seven kilometres to the south of the town of Phalaborwa.

The poor water quality in the river has long been a concern to many residents of the rural areas of Phalaborwa, as well to the many water users downstream, which include large mines, farms and game reserves. Dumping of litter in and alongside the river not only contributes to the poor water quality, but also degrades the riparian habitats which provide a key grazing resource for cattle and other domestic livestock.


Dumping of litter pollutes the river and degrades riparian habitats - a key grazing resource for cattle and other domestic livestock

In October last year, 55 community members from Makhushane village near Phalaborwa participated in a litter cleaning campaign along the Selati River. The clean-up campaign not only resulted in the removal of some of this litter (although much remains), but also served as a reminder to local residents of the negative effects of littering.


Community members from Makhushane village near Phalaborwa make sure the last scrap of litter is collected

The campaign was organised by two of SAEON’s Environmental Monitors, Terecia Kgholoane and Miranda Rhakoma, who live in the area, as well as colleagues from the Kruger-to-Canyons Biosphere Region (a non-profit organisation). Palabora Copper (previously Palabora Mining Company), SANParks and the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality provided additional support, in the form of a presentation on health hazards resulting from pollution, sponsorship of prizes, donation of T-shirts and removal of the more than 300 refuse bags of litter collected.


More than 300 refuse bags of litter were collected

The event was well supported by both local residents and local institutions, and is likely to be repeated regularly each year.


Members of the community listen attentively to a presentation on the health hazards resulting from pollution



Celebrating a job well done

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