The Pink Pimpernel

Who is the Pink Pimpernel
Is the Pink Pimpernel an anti-hero?

We may never have satisfactory answers to these pertinent questions but let’s set some of the fundamental issues straight.

Unpacking the Kamfers Dam debacle requires a gambol back in time [flamingo chicks don’t gamblesir – people do, for fame & fortune, & with other people’s money, usually] and although the devil resides, stoically, in the detail, most, if not all of what follows here, is freely available everywhere. What we don’t know was who / when / why it was decided that a Superman-shaped island would be fabulous for flamingos. Why Superman? Why not Deadpool? 

Those circumstances are not clear. 

Was the decision made after a round of golf, over cheap cigars & scribbled on the back of a small, paper napkin? Did the Pink Pimpernel play fair (ly)? Who else played-ball? Was the island an experiment; a means to an end? The flamingos had never bred there before, of course. Evolution & local experience provided the birds with the necessary expertise to understand the risks associated with the sedentary act of breeding. Nest-turrets, natural or artificial, have a fairly fixed address. Threats, even then, were numerous and none more obvious [to most] than the ease of access for biped & quadruped predators; predators favourably disposed to pickled flam-2-go.  

Perhaps what the birds needed was to be watched but otherwise left well alone? 

Wiki tells us that flamingos gather in flocks of thousands to ‘avoid predators, maximise food intake and use scarcely suitable nesting sites more efficiently‘. Who can argue with that? 

Here is what we know – Kimberley Municipality became the Sol Plaatje Municipality & the De Beers Group sold their mining interests to a JV consortium – eventually Ekapa Mining. 

We also know that the island was built on the better / wetter side of Kamfers Dam. By extrapolation, from events as they unfolded on the ground, the scrawl on the aforementioned napkin did NOT include a contingency plan for increased water-flow into the dam. 

Superman-island was ‘washed away’ following good rains and the influx of an unexpected flush of grey-water from the derelict effluent plant. So great was the ‘washing away’ that the railway line [nearby] was damaged and subsequently moved at great expense – millions, actually & for taxpayers’ account. Who else? To prevent another catastrophe, a pipeline was installed from there to a farm nearer the Vaal River. The pipeline, it is alleged, was constructed to manage / maintain constant water-levels at the dam.

After the island was destroyed & in a pique, the flamingos stopped breeding. Flat-out refused! That wouldn’t do. The threads of the project had started to unravel. The island would have to be rebuilt but how? The island’s financier wasn’t prepared to play ‘there’s a hole in this bucket’ & demanded of the authorities two things:

  1. A constant water level at the dam; and 
  2. state-of-the-art effluent [poop] plant.

The authorities obliged even if the state-of-the-art effluent [poop] plant was never operated / maintained correctly but they get points for trying. The newly-constructed pipeline addressed the ‘constant water level‘ proviso & the menace of any additional ‘washing away’, dissipated. The aforementioned napkin did not, at a guess, include a contingency plan for LOW water levels.

Kamfers Dam is on privately-owned land. Here’s where it gets a little testy. The farmer [& his missus] were apparently ‘asked’ to agree to a Biodiversity Management Programme. He [& she] didn’t like the ‘had to’ bit nor the Ts & Cs in the memo. They refused the programme. 

In the interim, whilst the Pink Pimpernel & his / her friends prevaricated, the flamingos took matters into their own hands [feet?]. Turrets were constructed from nearby natural materials and the birds got on with the business of breeding; an event nobody foresaw from their side of the “management plan“. Flamingos, it is alleged, return to their natal sites to breed but … who knows for sure? These are slippery customers. 

Could the early, successful ‘*breeding events’ [*ugh] have programmed the birds to return to what is, perhaps, unholy ground – an ecological trap? 

Unfortunately, the dam wasn’t immune to the vagaries of the weather; and nesting-turrets, exposed by receding water levels [i.e. drought], were evidently abandoned. By agreement, Ekapa Mining was entitled to & pay for 10 Megalitres [ML or million litres] of grey water from the state-of-the-art effluent [poop] plant. The Golf Club has access to 3ML. The flamingos, however, weren’t party to this codicil and, holding station at the end-of-the-line, were caught, exposed on dry land. Adult birds, fearing reprisals, huddled in deeper water, an exercise of pre-programmed caution against the 4-footed beasts & / or the cooking-pot. In 2018 the chicks too young to gambol, died in droves. In 2019 a repeat performance – only this time help was afoot. 

We know that superman-island [before the ‘washing away’] was built on the better / wetter side of the dam. The better / wetter side of the dam gave / gives breeding flamingos safe-passage & time-enough to see their chicks off to crèche – healthy, sturdy youngsters capable of gambolling in deeper water, away from the biped & quadruped threat. Rebuilding the island is, one would imagine, fairly important to the chicks caught on the periphery… 

Why then has the island not been rebuilt? Who is the Pink Pimpernel

The answer to the first question lies somewhere between common sense & free-enterprise. The island-financier’s stipulations have not been met – i.e. the farmer [& missus] has [have] not agreed to the Biodiversity Management Programme. Therefore, the island has not been rebuilt. Fairly straightforward. 

… but nobody likes a spoilsport. 

Pushed for more we’re told that the island was originally built on a “Promise”; and perhaps, less importantly, on a wing [whim?] & a prayer. The farmer [& missus] (legal owners of the land on which Kamfers Dam resides) had allegedly “Promised” to agree to the Biodiversity Management Programme. On the strength of this alleged “Promise” the island-financier built the s-shaped island. 

The farmer [& missus] are, however, of the view that there had NEVER been any such “Promise” & had he [& she] known that the island would only have been built subject to their signing the Biodiversity Management Programme, he [& she] would NEVER have agreed to the project [on their land] in the first place. Fair enough, we think. 

Who carried the news of this alleged “Promise” to the island’s financier? Was it the Pink Pimpernel? Who is the Pink Pimpernel? Was this alleged false message an act of subterfuge; the detestable act of a non-hero? 

Is this the final instalment in #thePinkPimpernelmustfall ?

… and so, will the real Pink Pimpernel please stand up! You have, sir [madam?] an awful lot to answer for and answering, sir [madam?], to the public – is an obligatory stipulation on your short list of responsibilities. Be a man [woman?] & let’s hear you say MEA CULPA. Then fix it! 

As an aside & having given this issue some thought, we find it reprehensible that the many birds abandoned to their fates, in a hostile, contrived environment & caught in a cycle of half-truths, are dismissed as collateral damage for those that aren’t. That mocks, at its core, the tenets inherent, by definition, in any self-respecting Biodiversity Management Programme. Then again, Kamfers Dam has seemingly never enjoyed the protection of a Biodiversity Management Programme, or even the alleged “Promise” of one.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *