Kruger National Park
In 1898 the Sabie Game Reserve was established primarily through the efforts of Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic at the time. Paul Kruger was deeply concerned about the rapid dwindling of wildlife caused bij poaching, the increasing trade in skins and ivory and excessive hunting. On the first of July in 1902 the Scottish-born James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed South Africa's first official game warden. He was nicknamed 'Skukuza' (he who sweeps clean) because of his succes in eliminating poaching the the area. He strongly advocated a change in legal status – from game reserve to national park.
On 31 May 1926 the parliament passed the National Parks Act. The Sabie and Shingwedzi Game Reserves were merged and the area was named the Kruger National Park in honour of its founding father , Paul Kruger, who had contributed enormously to wildlife conservation in Souht Africa. In 1927 the Kruger National Park opened to the general public.
The park currently extends from the Crocodile River in the south to the Limpopo in the north, it is 60 km wide and over 350 km long, conserving 21497 km², an area the size of Israel.
In 2002, Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique were incorporated into the a peace park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
The southern part of the park covers the area from the Crocodile river to Tsokwane.
It is the area with the highest density of game, therefore it also attracts most visitors. Especially the road between Lower Sabie and Skukuza is famous for good game viewing.
Skukuza is the bussiest camp in the park with lots of accommodation and many gamedrive vehicles driving in the adrea.
With the Kruger National Park being so vast it naturally has a tremendous botanic diversity. Simplistically the Kruger National Park can be divided into sixteen macro ecozones. Each ecozone has its characteristic plant- and animal life. On many of the available Kruger maps these macro ecozones are indicated.
Roughly, the northern half of the park, north of the Olifants River is predominantly mopane veld, while south of the Olifants the ecozones are thornveld.
The region between Tsokwane and the Tropic of Capricorm is somewhat less crowded than the Souther region.
The landscape is diverse, both the Olifants River and Letaba River attract a lot of wildlife.
The Kruger Nationa park is a summer rainfall area (September to March), with an overall average of 500 mm per year. Rain often arrives in the form of thunder storms.
Rainfall generally decreases from the south to the north and deom the west to the east with Parfuri having the lowest acerage rainfall. Pretoriuskop and Punda Maria are the highest rainfall areas.
The most quiet part of the park is in the north. Both in tourism and in wildlife.
Especially the area around Shingwedze attracts lots of elephants. Klopperfontein Dam is a suitable drinking and bathin area for manuy different species. Further up north, the Luvuvhu river area is a suitable habitat for a great variety of birds, some species are not present elsewhere in the park.
Bushfires are very common in African savannas, especially during the dry season between May and October. Fires in Kruger are managed using the patch mosaic fire philosophy whereby fires are ignited at selected localities and left to burn creating a natural patch mosaic of burnt and unburned patches. These patch fires, although randomly ignited, are closely monitored by the section rangers and only ignited under favourable conditions. This generally prevent the hot, high intensity uncontrolled fires from becoming unmanageable later in the season.
Once the rainy season starts lightning fires may occur and such fires are allowed to burn freely to allow lightning a chance to contribute as one of the natural sources of fire.
During a fire, the grass layer is often burnt completely. However, only the dead leaves are burnt, whilst the roots are still healthy. The early burns may sometimes resprout and this green flush during the dry season will benefit certain antelope species.
Animals can hear, feel and smell a fire when it is still very far away and most mammals normally have enough time to escape. Snakes and many kinds of insects, escape into holes in the ground, where they are safe, because the heat from the fire front seldom penetrates the soil below 5 cm depth.