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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Sheedy

Water Pumps and Wildlife

As I mentioned in my previous story, Childhood Reminiscence and a rhino encounter, over the years that our family have lived at Ellie Walk, water has forever been a problem.

Through trial and error, they have tried many different pumps on the river in order to have water on the property, and on more than one occasion the animals of the Kruger National Park have tampered (not always intentionally) with these pumps. Combined with the unpredictable nature of the Crocodile River, this has resulted in many explanations needed to the insurance company.

I’m not a very technical person, so I will try my best to describe these pumps to you in the simplest way possible.

The first pump that we had was on a cart, that had 2 wheels; it was a very large pump and had handles on it like a pram. The reason it was on wheels was so that it could be moved along the river and also taken out of the river when it was in flood.

Attached to it was a long cable, which lay on top of the ground and ran all the way from the river up to the house where the pump house was- from here you could start it. The cable was about 100 metres long; it was thick and very costly.

Of course the elephants had a field day with this, and whenever they popped by for a visit they would play with the cable, thinking perhaps it was a new toy for them. They loved to throw it in the air and there were many moments when Grammy and Gramps would hold their breath and hope the elephants wouldn’t rip it out of the connector box completely.

Gramps was drinking his morning coffee on the patio on one occasion, when he noticed that the entire cable was gone, they searched far and wide for it, eventually finding it about 500 metres up stream. Grammy and Gramps had to contact the insurance company and explain that the playful elephants had stolen the cable and disposed of it elsewhere. It took some convincing but the insurance company paid out.

One particular day there were some dagga buffalo boys grazing on a flood plain just above the river. The grass at that time was about knee high, and the buffaloes were thoroughly enjoying the delicious green grass. The cable was lying in the grass, and was, I suppose, not very visible to the buffalo.

As one of the buff’s took a step forward to munch on another piece of grass his horns got hooked on the cable and he continued to graze away not noticing it. The further along he went, as did the cable until it pulled tight, and the pump fell over.

The buff got a terrible fright, thinking perhaps a predator was after him, and took off at a great speed dragging the cable and the pump behind him. The faster he went, the more the pump followed, until eventually he jumped in the river and the cable broke out of the connector box. He crossed the river and continued up the hill, not even looking back for a second to see if his attacker was still in pursuit of him, and the pump, which had now been left behind in the river, was buried in to the sand.

The pump was quite badly damaged, so they pulled it out of the river and back to the house.

If there is anything that my grandparents have learned in the 46 years of living at Ellie Walk it is be prepared for absolutely anything… and always, always be insured.

Gramps promptly got in touch with the insurance company and explained what happened in the unfortunate incident of the buffalo and the pump. The assessor found Gramps’ story a little hard to believe. Elephants were one thing, but now a buffalo damaging the pump. It seemed like a tall story. He made the trip out to inspect the damage nontheless.

Upon his arrival, Gramps took him to the front of the house and showed him where this whole debacle had taken place, after which he showed him the pump, and then called three of our staff members to give their account of what had happened, as they had all witnessed the buffalo taking off with the pump. By the time he left that day, he was a firm believer that the buffalo had in fact destroyed the pump.

It wasn't long before the pump was replaced, and the new and improved pump installed. It was a submersible pump, which actually lay on top of the water. Two drums held it up, one on either side. It worked really well, as even when the river was in flood, the pump wasn’t affected, as it would just float on top of the water.

All was well, until a hippo bull with a bad disposition decided that the drums were a threat to him, he attacked the drums, biting in to them and the pump sank. Once again destroying it, and once again Grammy and Gramps had to contact the insurance company explaining their situation.

The “experts” then came up with an idea to solve all of Grammy and Gramps’ problems, by burying the pump under the sand and the cable under the sand too.

The elephants still knew the cable was under the ground as they would constantly run their trunk over the top of the sand and try to scratch it out with their feet, but with no such luck. It was working really well, until… the sand began to block the pump and then one day the river flooded and the pump washed out.

Needless to say, that over the years the insurance company has become exceptionally understanding (and somewhat sympathetic) to Grammy and Gramps’ wildlife and pump problems.

We have now sunk two boreholes on to the property and have stopped the use of any pumps on the river.

It seems to be working well… for now at least ;)


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