Kruger National Park


The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience second to none. At nearly two million hectares, it is the largest game reserve in South Africa, stretching 350km along the Mozambican border and is, on average, 60km wide. It is unrivalled in its diversity of species and is a recognised leader in environmental management techniques and policies.

Rhino Walking Safaris and Rhino Post Safari Lodge, lie within a private wilderness concession just north of Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, offering exclusive walking trails and game drive safaris. The park is home to an impressive number of species, has an amazing 16 different ecosystems, and ranks as a prime Big Five game viewing area.

The Limpopo is the park’s northern-most river and the Crocodile forms it southern boundary, while the Sabie, Letaba, Olifants and Luvuvhu rivers provide the park’s interior with water. There are some seasonal rivers like the Shisa and Timbavati, which are usually dry during winter.

The park tends to be mostly grasslands, known in South Africa as bushveld, and woodlands (savannah), with occasional rocky outcrops. The Kruger National Park falls within a malaria area and all necessary precautions should be taken. Consult your general practitioner on medication before planning a visit.

Interesting Facts

  • In 1869, a ‘gold rush’ exploded in the region causing the number of game to decrease dramatically due to hunting and trading of animal horns and skins.
  • In 1884, President Paul Kruger proposed that boundaries in the region be defined as game reserves to protect the flora and fauna, but his revolutionary vision was met with much resistance.
  • The park was first proclaimed in 1898 as the Sabie Game Reserve and the area between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers was set aside as official reserves.
  • The Scottish-born James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed the park’s first warden in 1902. Many accounts of the park’s early days can be found in the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Library.
  • In 1926 the National Parks Act was proclaimed and with it the merging of the Sabie and Shingwedzi Games Reserves into the Kruger National Park.

Natural History

  • More than 300 archaeological sites of Stone Age man have been found.
  • Cultural artifacts of Stone Age man have been found for the period 100,000 to 30,000 years ago.
  • There is ample evidence that prehistoric man – Homo erectus – roamed the area between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago.
  • Evidence of San (Bushman) and Iron Age people from about 1,500 years ago and numerous examples of San Art scattered throughout the park.
  • There are significant archaeological ruins at Thulamela and Masorini

Mammals

The Kruger National Park boasts the world’s greatest concentration and diversity of species. Below is a checklist of the most visual species:
Aardvark Aardwolf Antelope Roan Antelope Sable
Baboon Chacma Badger Honey Bat Epauletted, Peter’s Bat Epauletted, Wahlberg’s
Bat Free-tailed, Angolan Bat Free-tailed, Little Bat Tomb, Mauritian Buffalo
Bushbaby Lesser Bushbaby Thick-tailed Bushbuck Bushpig
Cane-rat Greater Caracal Cat Wild, African Cheetah
Civet Dassie Rock Dassie Rock Yellow-spotted Dog Wild
Duiker Common Duiker Red Eland Elephant African
Fox Bat-eared Genet Large-spotted Genet Small-spotted Giraffe
Grysbok Sharpe’s Hare Cape Hare Scrub Hare Red, Natal
Hartebeest Lichtenstein’s Hyena Spotted Hippopotamus Jackal Black-backed
Impala Klipspringer Jackal Side-striped Leopard
Kudu Mongoose Banded Lion Mongoose Grey, Large
Mongoose Dwarf Mongoose Selous’s Mongoose Meller’s Mongoose Water
Mongoose Slender Monkey Samango Mongoose White-tailed Mouse Multimammate, Natal
Monkey Vervet Oribi Nyala Pangolin
Otter Clawless Porcupine Polecat Striped Reedbuck Mountain
Reedbuck Common Rhinoceros Black Rhebok Grey Serval
Rhinoceros White Squirrel Tree Springhare Suni
Steenbok Warthog Tsessebe Wildebeest Blue
Waterbuck Zebra Burchell’s

The number of different animals varies from year to year depending on climatic conditions.

The following is an estimate based on the 2000 census:
Black rhino 250 Blue wildebeest 14 000 Buffalo 21 000
Burchell’s zebra 30 000 Cheetah 200 Eland 300
Elephant 9 152 Giraffe 5 000 Hippo 2 963
Hyaena 2 000 Impala 100 000 Kudu 3 500
Leopard 1000 Lion 2500 Roan antelope 60
Sable antelope 300 Tsessebe 200 Waterbuck 1 500
White rhino 2 500 Wild dog 350

Birds

Kruger has a list of more than 500 birds, some of which are not found anywhere else in South Africa. Tailor-made birding safaris are available from both Rhino Post Safari Lodge and Plains Camp. Birders can look forward to pursuing the Big Six: Ground Hornbill, Kori Bustard, Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Pel’s Fishing Owl and the Saddle-bill Stork.

In addition, Hornbills, Starlings, Vultures, Rollers, Bee-eaters and Shrikes make this a prime birdwatching area. Raptor viewing is extremely rewarding with Bateleur, Martial, Black-breasted Snake, Brown Snake, African Hawk, African Fish and Tawny Eagles seen regularly. In summer birders can spot the Wahlberg, Steppe and Lesser Spotted.

Vegetation

The Kruger National Park boasts 16 macro ecozones and, due to its vastness, it naturally has a tremendous botanic diversity. The northern half of the park, north of the Olifants River is predominantly mopane veld, while south of the Olifants, the ecozones are thornveld.

Rhino Post Safari Lodge, located slightly north of Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, consists of mixed Bushwillow and Acacia veld with numerous riverbeds running through it. An interesting feature of this area is the sodic open plains. These open areas with short grass attract high concentrations of wildlife. They are caused by sodium leaching out of the soil and accumulating in these areas.

Enthusiastic ecotourists can identify a variety of plant species in the park. Varying climatic conditions impact on the type of vegetation within an ecosystem and this, in turn, affects the distribution and population densities of various animals. The park has over 1,986 plant species, of which 336 are trees, including the Big Five: Baobab, Fever Tree, Knobthorn, Marula, and Mopane.

Baobab Red Bushwillow Common Cluster Fig Common Coral Tree
Delagoa Thorn Fever Tree Lowveld Fig Jackalberry
Knob Thorn Leadwood Natal Mahogany Marula
Monkey Orange Mopane Transvaal Mustard Tree Lala Palm
Raisin Bush Sausage Tree Tamboti Round-leafed Teak