Olifants River (Limpopo)

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This article is about the tributary of the Limpopo River. For other rivers, see Olifants River.
Coordinates: 24°6′44″S 32°38′25″E / 24.11222°S 32.64028°E / -24.11222; 32.64028
Olifants River (Lepelle or Obalule)
Olifantsrivier, Rio dos Elefantes
River
KNP-Olifants River-001.jpg
Olifants River as it flows through the Kruger National Park
Name origin: Olifant means "elefant" in Afrikaans, Obalule, means "long, stretched-out one" and Lepelle means "slow-flowing" or "distant"[1]
Country South Africa and Mozambique
Provinces Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gaza
Tributaries
 - left Letaba River
 - right Steelpoort River
Source Near Bethal
 - location Mpumalanga, South Africa
 - elevation 1,800 m (5,906 ft)
 - coordinates 26°20′33″S 29°49′47″E / 26.34250°S 29.82972°E / -26.34250; 29.82972
Mouth Limpopo River
 - location Gaza Province, Mozambique
 - coordinates 24°6′44″S 32°38′25″E / 24.11222°S 32.64028°E / -24.11222; 32.64028
Basin 54,570 km2 (21,070 sq mi)
Location of the Olifants River mouth
[2]
Course and Watershed of the Limpopo River. The Olifants enters the Limpopo from the right not far from its mouth on the Indian Ocean

The Olifants River, Lepelle[3] or Obalule[4] (Afrikaans: Olifantsrivier; Portuguese: Rio dos Elefantes) is a river in South Africa and Mozambique, a tributary of the Limpopo River. It falls into the Drainage Area B of the Drainage basins of South Africa. The historical area of the Pedi people, Sekhukhuneland, is located between the Olifants River and one of its largest tributaries, the Steelpoort River.[5]

Course[edit]

The Olifants River has its origin between Breyten and Bethal, Mpumalanga Province.[6] It flows north towards Limpopo Province through Witbank Dam and then the Loskop Dam and is forced east by the Transvaal Drakensberg, cutting through at the Abel Erasmus Pass and then flowing east further across Limpopo Province to join with the Letaba River. It crosses into Gaza Province, Mozambique, after cutting through the Lebombo Mountains by way of the Olifants Gorge, becoming the Rio dos Elefantes, and finally joining the Limpopo River after 40 km before it enters the Indian Ocean at Xai-Xai north of Maputo.[7]

Overgrazing in sections of its middle course result in the river carrying away eroded soil after heavy rains.[8] The Olifants river has become one of the most heavily polluted rivers in South Africa, not by human or industrial waste, but by thriving green algae.[9]

Tributaries[edit]

The Olifants River's largest tributaries are the Letaba River[10] and the Steelpoort River.[11] Other tributaries are the Tongwane, Blyde, Moses, Spekboom, Timbavati, Nkumpi, Ga-Selati, Klaserie, Makhutswi and Mohlapitse Rivers. Some tributaries, notably the Klein Olifants River (origin near Hendrina, joins the Olifants River downstream of the Middelburg Dam), the Elands, Wilge and the Bronkhorstspruit, rise in the Highveld grasslands.[12] The Shingwedzi River flows close to the northeastern side of the Massingir Dam reservoir and joins the left bank of the Olifants about 12 km downstream from the dam wall.[13]

Dams[edit]

Thirty large dams in the Olifants River Catchment include the following:

South Africa[edit]

Mozambique[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]