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Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park, the largest national park in South Africa, covers 19,485 square kilometres across Limpopo and Mpumalanga, two of the nine South African provinces. Established in 1926, Kruger is the second oldest national park in South Africa. Named after Paul Kruger, who was the South African Republic (or Transvaal) President from 1883 to 1900.

Also known as Kruger Safari Park, Kruger National Park has a landscape mostly covered by plains, interrupted by the Lebombo mountain range. The park is part of the greater Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, an area designated by UNESCO.

Timeline For Kruger National Park

  • 13th-16th century: The Thulamela on the hilltop located south of the Levuvhu River was occupied by traders.
  • 1815-1840: This period is known as the ‘Mfecane Era’ in South Africa. During this period, iron smelting, a form of extractive metallurgy, was in practice at the Masorini hill.
  • Before 1899: The park area was a remote section that came under the eastern South African Republic’s last wild frontier.
  • 1985: Jakob Louis van Wyk and R.K. Loveday together introduced a motion to create a game reserve in the South African Republic’s parliament. This motion proposed the area from the Crocodile River to the Sabi River.
  • 1898: On 26th March 1898, Paul Kruger proclaimed an area of 10,364 square kilometres as the Sabi Game Reserve. The idea behind the reserve was to control the hunting activities, thereby protecting the diminishing wildlife in the area.
  • 1902: James Stevenson-Hamilton became the first warden of the Sabi Game Reserve, who then appointed rangers to help him run the park. However, the first rangers lasted for only a few months, so they were replaced with Harry Wolhuter stationed at Pretoriuskop and Thomas Duke stationed at Lower Sabie.
  • 1903: Shingwedzi Game Reserve, which was named after and located on the southern bank of Shingwedzi River, was established.
  • 1906: Hunting was restricted to a large area between the Olifants River and the Letaba Rivers.
  • 1916-1918: The members of a commission appointed by the Transvaal Administrator concluded that the administration should focus on building a great national park to preserve the prehistoric conditions of South Africa.
  • 1921: Deneys Reitz, the agriculture minister, and Piet Grobler advocated the necessity of a well-established national park.
  • 1923: The Shingwedzi reserve was merged with the Sabi Game Reserve and was known as the Transvaal Game Reserve.
  • 1926: The Transvaal Game Reserve was proclaimed as the Kruger National Park.
  • 1927: Kruger National Park received it’s first three tourist cars.
  • 1928: The number of tourist cars entering Kruger National Park spiked to 180.
  • 1929: 850 tourist cars entered the Kruger National Park.
  • 30th April 1946: James Stevenson-Hamilton retired after being the Park Warden for 44 years. Colonel J. A. B Sandenbergh was appointed as the Park Warden the same year.
  • 1959-1960: The park was fenced in, starting with the southern boundaries, followed by western, northern, and eastern park boundaries. The fences were built to protect the park animals from poachers and to curb the spread of disease.
  • 1969: 1500 Makuleke people were forcibly relocated to the south of the Makuleke area, while the Makuleke area was merged with the Kruger National Park.
  • 1996: The Makuleke tribe got their land back legally by claiming 198.42 square kilometres land, formerly the Makuleke area. After regaining it, the Makuleke turned the area into a tourist spot, wherein they built game lodges from which they continue to earn royalties.
  • The late 1990s: Balule Game Reserve, Olifants Game Reserve, and Klaserie Game Reserve, were merged into the Kruger National Park, adding approximately a 4,000 square kilometres area to it.
  • 10th November 2000: A memorandum for creation of peace park, Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park, was signed.
  • October 2001: The name Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park was changed to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
  • 4th October 2001: 40 elephants, including three breeding herds, were translocated from Kruger National Park to Limpopo National Park. A total of 1000 elephants were translocated to the Limpopo National Park over two and a half years.
  • 2002: Kruger National Park and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, were merged into a Peace Park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

Wildlife in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park has the largest population of rhinos in Africa; 9000-12,00 white rhinos and 580-650 black rhinos. The park is a haven for 147 large mammal species, more than 500 bird species, 114 reptile species, 50 fish species, 219 species of butterflies and skippers, and 350 arachnid species. The sheer number of wildlife in the area is astounding. Kruger is one of the best parks to view the famous African big five animals in their natural habitat.

Popular Species in Kruger National Park

  • Mammals: Buffalo, cheetah, honey badger, elephant, leopard, rhinos, antelope, giraffe, wild dogs.
  • Birds: Bateleur eagle, Cape vulture, kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, pel’s fishing owl, saddle-billed stork, wattled crane, crested Barbet, scops owl, purple roller and many more.
  • Reptiles: African rock python, black mamba, Nile crocodiles.
  • Arachnid: Baboon spider, scorpion, pseudoscorpion, solifugid, harvestmen and tailless whip scorpion.

When To Visit Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park can be considered a year-round bird watching destination, although the ideal time to visit the park for bird watching is from November to April. During these months, many migrant species are present at the park. May to September is the best time to visit Kruger National Park as during these dry winter months, animals gather around the rivers and waterholes.

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