Artificial waterholes are a widely used, yet contested wildlife management practice in semi-arid environments. We evaluated wildlife water provisioning at four artificial waterholes in the southern region of the Kruger National Park. We documented daily waterhole visitation patterns of mammals during the wet and dry seasons using camera-traps. We recorded 26 mammal species at the waterholes, with African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and impalas (Aepyceros melampus) being the most abundant. We used generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) to determine which variables (season, time of day, water quality, and the presence of carnivores or elephants) would affect animal visitation. Waterhole visitation patterns differed according to time of day, but this effect remained relatively constant between seasons. More animals visited waterholes in the dry season compared to the wet season. Carnivore presence negatively affected impala abundance. Elephant presence did not affect impala and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) visits to waterholes. Water quality also appeared to play a role in determining animal abundance. Based on our results, though obtained from a limited sample size, we suggest some management practices to be considered when deciding which waterholes should be closed down or left open.
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