|One Man’s Unceasing Efforts to Save Lake St. Lucia|
Dr. Ian Player knows Lake St. Lucia, located in South Africa’s Wetlands Park, intimately. He’s dedicated 60 years of his life to saving it. In his youth, Dr. Player fished the lake. By 1970, he would be wrestling and airlifting 50 large crocodiles to save them from salinity of the lake’s waters. For the full article, follow the link below to WILD.
“The most urgent problem facing South Africa is the environment and this must take precedence over less important political squabbles.”
My own memory of the Lake begins when my father went fishing there in the 1930’s and spoke of it being a fisherman’s paradise. I first saw the Lake in 1947, stayed at the Anglers Hotel and did a boat trip up the narrows and down to the mouth which was open to the sea and the Imfolozi flowed into it. Fishing was superb, but there were serious views being expressed about the soil coming into the lake. In 1952 my first station, after a few days tutelage under Peter Potter, the chief Conservator, was St Lucia estuary, where I relieved Ranger Erasmus.
The drive from Mtubatuba to the estuary was along a dirt road and for many miles the forest canopy, the Dukuduku, was just overhead. In the open grasslands there were small vleis with geese and ducks. We crossed over the Estuary by pont with a group of Zulus pulling on the ropes and singing in magnificent unison. I lived in the Anglers Hotel at a cost of £18-0-0 a month, which left me two pounds - it was enough.
Eric Yeld and his family lived in the Anglers too - he had recently been appointed as Engineer in charge of the reclamation, by the Natal Provincial Administration. We became firm friends - from him I learned about the decision to begin diverting the Imfolozi into the sea to avoid any more silt being deposited. But it was already too late, and the problem was being tackled from the wrong end. Other problems were also looming.