At 2 000 000 hectares Kruger National Park in South Africa can only be described as huge! It’s about the same size as the whole of
Israel, a little smaller than Belgium and about a third of the size of Ireland. The park is approximately 360 kilometres long, has an average width of 65 kilometres and, at its widest point, it is 90 kilometres from east to west. There is a network of some 1 800km of well maintained roads and the Reserve has 21 rest camps, 2 private lodge concessions, and 15 private safari lodges!
“Huge” extends beyond land area: It his home to 336 tree, 49 fish, 34 amphibian, 114 reptile, 507 bird and 147 mammal species. Kruger National Park is said to hold over 48 tons of ivory in storage and there are some 12 000 elephants in the park. The table below shows the approximate number of some of the other mammal species that occur there.
|African Buffalo||27 000||African Wild Dog||350|
|Black Rhino||350||White Rhino||7 000 to 12 000|
|Burchell’s Zebra||18 000||Bushbuck||500|
|Giraffe||5 000||Greater Kudu||6 000|
|Hippo||3 000||Lion||1 500|
|Leopard||1 000||Spotted Hyenas||2 000|
|Elephant||12 000||Waterbuck||5 000|
|Blue Wildebeest||9 500||Impala||90 000|
Some interesting facts about Kruger National Park:
- The park was proclaimed in 1898 initially as the Sabie Game Reserve by Paul Kruger the then president of the Transvaal Republic He first proposed the need to protect the animals of the Lowveld in 1884, but it took another 12 years to be proclaimed when the area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers was set aside for restricted hunting.
- James Stevenson-Hamilton was the park’s first warden and was appointed on 1 July 1902.
- The National Parks Act was proclaimed on 31 May 1926 and with it the combining of the Sabie and Shingwedzi Game Reserves the Kruger National Park was born.
- The first motorists entered the park in 1927. The cost? One pound.
- Stevenson-Hamilton’s books, housed in the Memorial Library in Skukuza, make fascinating reading.
- There are some 254 known cultural heritage sites in the Kruger National Park, including about 125 recorded rock art sites.
- There is ample evidence that Homo erectus (prehistoric man) lived in the area between 500 000 and 100 000 years ago.
- Cultural artefacts from between 100 000 to 30 000 years ago are evidence that Stone Age man also roamed these parts.
- More than 300 archaeological Stone Age sites been found.
- Bushman (San) and Iron Age people from about 1500 years ago were also present here.
- There are important archaeological ruins at Thulamela and Masorini.
- There are numerous examples of San Rock Art in the Park.