Lower Olifants River Ecosystem and Management

Lower Olifants River Ecosystem Functioning and Management programme.


Aim and scope of the project: In this study, we aim to implement a series of ecosystem function characterisation studies to generate flow-ecosystem, quality-ecosystem and habitat-ecosystem relationships that represent the Lower Olifants River system and how it will respond to multiple stressors. This evidence will then be used to establish an adaptable, probabilistic regional scale ecological risk model to represent our understanding of the Olifants River system and how it responds to the synergistic effects of multiple stressors. This model and the associated evidence generated in this study will make a meaningful contribution towards the implementation of the sustainability targets or resource quality objectives for the Olifants River, and the achievement of a sustainable balance between the use and protection of its resources.

Client and or collaborating stakeholders: SANPARKS, University of Mpumalanga, North-West University, iThemba LABS, University of Pretoria, Tswane University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal and AWARD.

Interesting and important outcomes/prospects: The Olifants River is one of Africa’s hardest working rivers that is affected by a plethora of water quality, reduced flows and habitat altering stressors that all affect the lower part of the river in the Kruger National Park. In the Kruger National Park, the synergistic effects of these stressors threaten the important aquatic biodiversity of the river. This has been manifest in massive fish and crocodile kills in recent years.  Following this project, we have a better understanding of how dynamic ecosystems respond to the synergistic effects of multiple stressors and result in a risk framework to contribute to its management.


For more information contact: Gordon.obrien@ump.ac.za