Most people see a river, and that’s the highlight of the area especially in this type of landscape, and it’s true because that’s the hub that we spoke about earlier. The main vein of life. It’s the hub from where most of your ecological influences will sprout from. It’s also, like we discussed earlier, the common denominator that introduces most of your influences and impacts externally to conservation and protected areas. That’s why I like this photograph because it not only has the river but shows the interaction between different species, whether its now the terrestrial, the landscape, the vegetation, the bare ground in the back. So you bring erosion and everything in. And of course, the buffalo and hippos. It’s not all doom and gloom from outside only, animals for instance, like buffalo as you see there also introduce impacts and influences. Let us say when a heard of buffalo die of anthrax, they will often land up next to or close to or in water bodies. Granted, it happens less frequently in rivers and more often in dams and pans, but it is still a water body.

When you try to establish river health or any ecological monitoring system or program, you need to have clear set objectives, because those will guide you into evaluating whether you’ve actually spent energy, time and money in a worthwhile manner.

Here are the objects of a local river health program. First, you want to determine the current ecological status. You want to take stock and see what is the current state of that river. If it’s not broken don’t fix it. Secondly, identify potential impacts on the river. That you will be able to do once you have taken your initial set of samples to the lab, and see that the phosphates are terribly high…

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