Arguably the most famous game reserve in all of Africa, Kruger National Park is a vast tract of land covering some 19,633 square kilometers/7,580 square miles in the northeast corner of South Africa. It spans the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces, and runs along the national border with Mozambique. It is the ultimate safari destination for visitors to South Africa, offering day visits, overnight stays, self-drive safaris and guided game drives. Kruger has 12 main rest camps, 4 private camps, and 7 bush camps. There is roughly 3000km tourist roads, and a further 2000km service roads used by the park rangers. Even with all the infrastructure, 98% of KNP is unspoiled wilderness.
Kruger National Park was first established as a wildlife refuge in 1898, when it was proclaimed as the Sabie Game Reserve by the president of the Transvaal Republic, Paul Kruger. More recently, the Kruger became part of the Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Park, an international collaboration that joins the park with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique; and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. A total area of 35 000 square km means that animals can now move freely across international borders as they would once have done thousands of years ago.
147 mammal species have been recorded within the park’s boundaries, in addition to countless reptiles, fish and amphibians. Amongst them are the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino (both black and white). Rare and endangered animals such as Cheetah, African wild dog, Black-footed cat and the Pangolin, also roam the park.
The park is home to no fewer than 507 bird species, and 404 tree species.
POACHING is sadly a great threat to the KNP. Many animals are targeted by poachers, either for traditional practices, or, in the case of the Rhino and Pangolin, to export the Rhino horn and Pangolin scales.
The efforts to combat poaching is steadily having a positive effect, but is difficult to control due to the magnitude of land that needs to be monitored. It is estimated that almost 7000 Rhino’s have been poached in South Africa since 2010.