pub lgh 2014

 

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The Jozini Dam - General Information

 

The Jozini Dam (previously called the Pongolapoort Dam) is build on the Pongola River was completed in 1974 and covers an area of 17 000 hectares when the dam levels are at 100%.  The dam wall is 70m high  is build across the Pongola River gorge at the town of Jozini. The dam was originally build to supply water to local farmers on the Makatini flats for the cultivation of crops such as sugar cane, maize and cotton. Jozini Dam is situated in a beautiful part of northern KZN on the western side of the Lebombo mountain range in an area characterized by bushveld, wildlife and subtropical weather. The Jozini Dam is surrounded by private and provincial game reserves which have healthy populations of animals and birds. Jozini is now a protected breeding area for a host of water birds, mammals and fish such as the Tiger Fish. The Pongolapoort gorge is magnificent and worth a visit by boat to explore the inlets and cliffs. There are 27 species of fish in the Jozini Dam, the most prevalent being the tiger fish, Tilapia (kurper), barbel, yellowfish and carp. The Jozini Dam is at the most southern range of the African Tiger Fish, and with so much space, food and warm water, the tiger fish populations have grown to the point where Jozini is now one of the most popular fishing destinations in South Africa, with catches of tiger fish comparable to places like the Okavango Delta and the Zambezi River, just so much closer by and very easy to get to with any vehicle

 

The Annual Cycle at the Jozini Dam

 

There is an interesting annual cycle at Jozini which influences the fishing greatly. In the summer, the Pongola River flows strongly, fed by rain falling on the eastern escarpment and the highveld. Jozini Slowly fills up until October, when 15 - 20 percent of the water in the dam is released to flood the floodplains in the Makatini flats where local people rely upon the annual flood to fill the pans with water and fish and to irrigate their subsistence gardens and small farms. In some areas on the wester shore, the dam water can recede by 300m and more. From the end of October, the summer rains bring water down the Pongola River and the Jozini Dam fills up slowly, usually reaching levels of 100% by the end of February. All the vegetation which grows on the banks during the period where the dam levels are low is covered with water, feeding the dam and offering structure for small fish to hide, and also attracting tiger fish. The aquatic weeds begin to grow again and by the beginning of march, floading weed beds appear in all the shallow areas of Jozini. From November to April the water is often dirty, especially in the north of the Jozini dam where the Pongola river flows into Jozini. During the summer, the cleanest water can be found in the south of Jozini and in the gorge. When the summer rains end, the water slowly gets cleaner, so clean that you can often see the bottom 5 meters down.      During the winter, the aquatic plants can grow fast in the clean water, forming weed bed which are used by water birds, and tilapia, eaten by hippo and are favorite areas for fishermen hunting for tiger fish. The presence of so much aquatic growth, hippos and flooding of vegetated areas, and the inflow of nutrients via the Pongola river that results in such a rich and diverse ecosystem