Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 sq. mi.) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa.
This South African Park extends 360 kilometers (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometers (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the “Biosphere”).
History of Kruger National Park
The area was a home of the Tsonga people, from Skukuza / Ulusaba / Mala Mala/ Protea Hotel Kruger Gate in the South, Manyeleti / Timbavati / Satara in the Centre and Makuleke/ Pafuri Triangle in the North, the Tsonga people dominated the entire area. The Tsonga people became a victim of forced removal from the Kruger National Park between 1899 and 1926.
When the British Colonialists took over the administration of Union of South Africa in 1902, they sought to expand the park and finally in 1926, the Tsonga people were removed from the entire land to make way for the establishment of South Africa’s biggest nature reserve.
The last Tsonga people in the park were removed during the 1960s at Makuleke in the Pafuri triangle. Since 1994, the Tsonga people have been involved in a land claim dispute with the South African Government for the restoration of their once vast Kingdoms; however, the Government is not willing to hand over the entire park to the Tsonga people in the name of ‘Conservation’.
The Tsonga people are today active participants in the hospitality industry in the whole park, the Protea Hotel Kruger Gate testify to this participation.
Sabi Game Reserve (1898-1926)
In1895, Jakob Louis van Wyk introduced in the Volksraad of the old South African Republic, a motion to create the game reserve which would become the Kruger National Park. That motion, introduced together with another Volksraad member by the name of R. K. Loveday. It was accepted for discussion in September 1895 by a majority of one vote. This resulted in the proclamation by Paul Kruger president of the Transvaal Republic, on 26 March 1898, of a “Government Wildlife Park.”
This park would later be known as the Sabi Game Reserve and was expanded into the Kruger National Park in 1926. The park was initially created to control hunting and protect the diminished number of animals in the park.
James Stevenson Hamilton became the first warden of the reserve in 1902. The reserve was located in the southern one-third of the modern park.
Shingwedzi Reserve, named after the Shingwedzi River and now in northern Kruger National Park, was proclaimed in 1903. In 1926, Sabie Game Reserve, the adjacent Shingwedzi Game Reserve, and farms were combined to create Kruger National Park.
During 1923, the first large groups of tourists started visiting the Sabie Game Reserve, but only as part of the South African Railways’ popular “Round in Nine” tours. The tourist trains used the Selati railway line between Komatipoort on the Mozambican border and Tzaneen in Limpopo Province.
The tour included an overnight stop at Sabie Bridge (now Skukuza) and a short walk, escorted by armed rangers, into the bush. It soon became a highlight of the tour and it gave valuable support for the campaign to proclaim the Sabie Game Reserve as a national park.
Kruger National Park: 1926-1946
After the proclamation of the Kruger National Park in 1926, the first three tourist cars entered the park in 1927, jumping to 180 cars in 1928 and 850 cars in 1929.
Warden James Stevenson-Hamilton retired on 30 April 1946, after 44 years as warden of the Kruger Park and its predecessor, the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve.
James was replaced by Colonel J. A. B. Sandenbergh of the South African Air Force. During 1959, work commenced to completely fence the park boundaries.
Work started on the southern boundary along the Crocodile River and in 1960 the western and northern boundaries were fenced, followed by the eastern boundary with Mozambique.
The purpose of the fence was to curb the spread of diseases, facilitate border patrolling and inhibit the movement of poachers.
The Makuleke area in the northern part of the park was forcibly taken from the Makuleke people by the government in 1969 and about 1500 of them were relocated to land to the South so that their original tribal areas could be integrated into the greater Kruger National Park.
Kruger National Park: 1994 – Todate
In 1996 the Makuleke tribe submitted a land claim for 19,842 hectares (198.42 km2) in the northern part of the Kruger National Park. The land was given back to the Makuleke people, however, they chose not to resettle on the land but to engage with the private sector to invest in tourism, thus resulting in the building of several game lodges.
In the late 1990s, the fences between the Kruger Park and Klaserie Game Reserve, Olifants Game Reserve and Balule Game Reserve were dropped. This resulted into the Greater Kruger Park with 40 000 hectares added to the Reserve.
In 2002, Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique were incorporated into a peace park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Diverse Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is one of the biggest National Parks in Africa. It is situated at the North-Eastern tip of South Africa and spans over the Mpumalanga and Limpopo province. Many of the surrounding private reserves have removed their fences, allowing wildlife to roam freely between reserves. This has created a wildlife area like no other, as its beauty soaks itself into anyone who visits this diverse place. The area plays home to a number of species including:
- 147 Mammals
- 114 Reptiles
- 507 Bird Species
- 34 Amphibians
- 336 Tree Species
|Languages spoken||Afrikaans, Xsosa, Zulu, English|
|Currency used||South African Rand (SAR)|
|Area (km2)||19,485 KM SQ|