If the birds could tweet “happy birthday” it may be an appropriate way to celebrate the 90th year of the protected wildlife area that it the Kruger National Park. Paul Kruger, in his presidential days, proclaimed protection of the natural area between the Crocodile and Sabi rivers, known as the lowveld. It took just over a decade for this sentiment to become a reality and in 1898 the park was established as the Sabi Game Reserve.
(President Paul Kruger Memorial monument)
James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed as the reserve’s first warden in 1902. The park was then re-proclaimed by the British in 1903 and the protected area of the park increased yet again. The National Parks Act was then proclaimed on the 31st of May 1926 in conjunction with the inclusion of the Shingwedzi and Sabi Game Reserves.
(First appointed Warden of the Kruger National Park: James Stevenson-Hamilton)
Tourists had been allowed entrance into the reserve from 1923 via a railway tour established by the South African Railway, stopping at what is now known as Skukuza. Interestingly the railway was not constructed for the purpose of game viewing, but rather as a convenient pit stop en route to Lourenço Marques (now known as Maputo.)
(Skukuza railway bridge)
It wasn’t until 1927 that the first visitors to the park were able to go on a game drive through the wilderness. Initially there were no comfortable spots next to a fire or at a luxury lodge. Instead visitors to the park simply made tented camps in amongst the buffalo thorns for the evening.
(Kruger National Park - Skukuza Gate)
It was also around this time that the potential of tourism began to pique the interest of the Kruger board as well as the South African Railway. A main road was then constructed through the reserve with various secondary roads designed specifically for game viewing. The board in conjunction with SAR then consented to the construction of various rest camps. The idea around this development was to enable a wildlife experience involving a knowledgeable safari guide escorting wildlife enthusiasts through the reserve.
(Tar road forming a bridge over the Crocodile River)
Today, the Kruger National Park is home to all of Africa’s most iconic animals from the king of the beasts to the dazzling zebra. In 2002 Kruger became a part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier park. A piece of land approximately 35,000 km² kept solely for the conservation and protection of these animals.
(Bull elephant after a much needed drink and mud bath)
The Kruger National Park has long been know as one of Africa’s premier wildlife destinations. Some incredible animal action has unfolded over the vast landscape of the lowveld such as the infamous “Battle at Kruger.” This reserve is a must for anyone planning an African safari adventure!
(Wild Dog puppy resting in the shade)
With that WE would like to extend our warmest birthday wishes to the wildest place in South Africa! Here’s to many more years of conservation and epic animal antics!