sue@ruaha.com | PO Box 369, Ruaha National Park, Iringa, Tanzania

All content © 1994-2019 Sue Stolberger

Great Ruaha River | Sue's Old Camp | April 1998

Great Ruaha River | Sue's Old Camp | December 1996

Yearly Notes on the Flow of the Great Ruaha River

1994 - 2018

1994

River dried up on NOV 17 ………………… average rainfall, rivers full and flowing
started flowing DEC 15 ………………………. well
(RAINFALL NOT RECORDED)

1995

River dried up on OCT 19 ……………………..average rainfall rivers full and flowing

started flowing DEC 23 …………………….......well

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 95/96………………388mm ( incomplete records)

1996

River dried up on OCT 17 ………………..... generally very poor rainfall this year

started flowing DEC 16 ……………………...... Sand rivers hardly flowed

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 96/97……….... 401mm

1997

River dried up on SEPT 20 ……………….  Major rainfall due to El ninio

started flowing NOV 22 …………………….... river burst its banks for 3 months

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 97/98…….…… 815mm

1998

River dried up on NOV 18 ……………………..despite floods river still dried up

started flowing JAN 19 1999 ……………… rain very sporadic and late

stopped again FEB 12 1999 …………….… looked like drought conditions

started flowing MARCH 9 1999….…… no rain in Feb, river dried up again

Good rain in March Full River Flowing Mid APRIL 1999 .... and half of April

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 98/99…………… 392mm

1999

River dried up on SEPT 21 ……………………. poor rainfall, late and sporadic

started flowing DEC 20 ……………………....... in catchment areas flow was due to local flooding

so did not flow continuously until JAN 28 2000 

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 99/00……………..527mm

2000

SEPTEMBER 17 ..…………………………................... RVER STOPPED FLOWING

NOVEMBER 22 ……………………………................... RIVER STARTED FLOWING AGAIN

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 00/01…………….. 960mm

2001

Due to good rainfall, the local water-table is high, hence springs

along the Ruaha are assisting the flow to the Park.

It is not due to efforts to curb intake from the Usangu Basin.

NOVEMBER 12 ……………………………….................. RIVER STOPPED FLOWING

DECEMBER 23……………………………….................... RIVER STARTED FLOWING AGAIN

RAINFALL TOTAL …………………………................. 706mm

2002

Due to good rainfall water tables are high and springs along the great Ruaha flowed until October.

All water since the end of May in the river is from these springs, not is from the Usangu basin.

NOVEMBER 2 ………………………………..................... RIVER STOPPED FLOWING

DECEMBER 24 ……………………………..................... RIVER STARTED FLOWING

RAINFALL TOTAL …………………………................. 619mm

2003

Despite the fact that we received reasonable rainfall in mm, the rain fell in large sporadic storms.

As a result, the vegetation suffered from the long gaps between rain showers. The water table rose a bit,

but not as much as it would have done from constant rain. The river never rose to its full level, and the Usangu water only flowed for about one month. The river this year is almost totally from local run off -  not from the Usangu catchment area.

 

The river this year dried up very early, but what has made the problem worse is that the water table is now very low from repeated bad flows over the past few years. Hence it became impossible to dig for water by the end of November as the water table was below the rocks. This seriously affected the movements of the elephants, as they normally dig for water at this time of year and then the other animals use the holes they have dug. The animals were desperate for water that they normally would get from the elephants-dug hole. The elephants have moved towards the villages for their water during this time which has caused more problems.

SEPTEMBER 21 …………………………….................... RIVER STOPPED

DECEMBER 14 ……………………………...................... RIVER STARTED

DECEMBER 21 ……………………………....................... RIVER STOPPED

DECEMBER 30……………………………....................... RIVER STARTED

JANUARY 5th 2004 ………………………................ RIVER STOPPED

JANUARY 16th 2004 ………………………………...... RIVER STARTED

Usangu water came down January 30th 2004 

RAINFALL TOTAL FOR 2003/04 ………. 532mm

2004

The river reached its highest level for the year in April 2004. This level was still a foot lower than the marker rock up river from my cap. In previous years (from 1994- 2000) the river always consistently covered this rock by at least 2 feet. This would then flow continuously at this height for several months. Nowadays (2001 -2004) this lower ‘high’ level only flows consistently for no more than a week. Once the local rain has stopped it slowly begins to go down, often keeping up the consistent rate of about 1cm per day.

 

July 2004. The river is now very shallow almost forming separate channels around the rocky areas. The gully by my camp has been dry for about 1 month.

2005

2005/2006 .... Flow stopped Oct 26th 2005, started Jan 31st 2006

 

Note: In 2006 the author moved from her camp on the banks of the river to another area of Ruaha Park, but she continues to make notes on the flows of the river. The style of the notes have changed slightly.

2006

2006/2007 stopped October 15th 2006 - started November 26th 2006! (Rain started early and was exceptionally heavy ending in May). El ninio conditions with high rainfall.

2007

2007/2008 I have lost this data due to computer problems.

2009

2009/2010 Flowed all year! This was an historic year, first time since 1992. This was not due to more rainfall but due to one river (the Ndembera) being policed by TANAPA and the relevant gates to rice paddies being closed during the dry season... simple! Therefore one of the major rivers made all the difference - it is not difficult to keep the river flowing all year and rice does not need to stop. It just needs honest governance that's all.

2010

2010/2011 October 3rd stopped 2010- started March 20th 2011

2011

2011/2012 stopped September 15th 2011 - started December 25th. Good rainfall this year and reasonable flows (at the ‘now accepted’ lower flow levels that is).

2012

2012/2013 October 15th flow stopped - February 16th 2013 started.  Lowest wet season flow in history despite normal rainfall. The river never flowed bank to bank.

2013

2013/2014 September 25th stopped - started February. Best wet season flow for some years due to heavy late rains.

2014

2014/2015 November 12th stopped - NO FLOW until 25th Feb 2015. Despite early rains in the Usangu catchment area. Very low flows.

2015

2015/2016 October 30th 2015 stopped flowing -  started flowing mid December 2015 from local rain. El ninio conditions very heavy rain in catchment areas, the Mdonya river and the Mwagusi river (inside Ruaha Park) flowed the highest anyone can remember seeing them. Much flooding in Lunda area towards Mtera dam, and in Pawaga flooding caused much damage to farmers. This year the fishermen at Mtera were able to return as the dam was full! They left the area years ago.

2016


2016/2017 October 29th 2016 stopped flowing (despite huge rainfall this past season with
exceptionally high flows and high water-tables). This is due to to the rice farmers starting to
plant their rice early... long before the rains have arrived. You can see from the records that the
river seldom flows longer than end of October.

Download the notes from this page here:

 Ruaha River Flow Notes 1994-2015.pdf