The Kruger National Park is an amazing and iconic destination in South Africa. The Kruger Park is a massive conservancy that consists of multiple conjoined lands of both private owners and other game reserves. Home to a very diverse variety of mammal, reptile, avian, fish, plant and amphibian species, The Kruger is one of the largest conservancies in the world and is popular with tourists world wide. The history of the Kruger National Park and its founders is truly fascinating and often provides a bigger perspective.
The Kruger National Park was established back in 1898 by the then Transvaal president, Paul Kruger. He realized that the animals of the Lowveld was in danger and that they needed protecting. The area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers had been restricted for hunting in 1884. The Dream that Kruger had, had finally come to fruition in 1898 when the Sabie Game Reserve was established, which was later renamed to the Kruger National Park.
The First warden that was appointed at the Park was Scottish-born James Stevenson-Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the pioneers and leading forces in the development of the Kruger National Park as we know it today. In 1927, the Sabie Game Reserve and the Shingwedzi Game Reserves were merged after the National Parks Act. Many of the early years have been recorded and can be accessed in the Stevenson-Hamilton Library in Skukuza.
The Park in its early beginnings was just set up as a conservancy and did not allow any visitors from the outside side from a few high ranking members in Parliament. As more people slowly started visiting the conservancy, more rondavels were created to house the visitors who travelled from a far. The Park slowly started to develop and more rest camps were slowly developed as the years went on.
At one point in the Kruger Park’s History, specifically during the 2nd World War, the Park was left in the hands of another Director when Stevenson-Hamilton was called to war. While Hamilton was away, the park was left in disarray and many places have been run down. Upon Hamilton’s return, he had found that the Park was left in horrible condition and was utterly heartbroken that the progress he made had come to a grinding halt. He worked hard for years to bring the Park back to its former glory and succeeded.
The size of the Kruger National Park is an astounding 19,633 km2 and is home to over 753 species of animals and an amazing 1982 different species of plants, that can be found in different biomes and climates. The Kruger National Park is also home to 254 different cultural heritage sites, of which 130 are sites known for their historically significant rock art. The region the Kruger Park is located in, was home to the San (bushmen) for over 1500 years and they paved the way for the Nguni people to travel further North and the European explorers and settlers who came to South Africa in the 19th Century