Kruger National Park Facts

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa's first national park in 1926.

To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a peace park that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

The park is part of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere an area designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an International Man and Biosphere Reserve (the "Biosphere").

The park has nine main gates allowing entrance to the different camps.

History

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometres (7,580 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometres (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from east to west. The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa's first national park in 1926.

 

 

Geography

The park lies in the north-east of South Africa, in the eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. Phalaborwa, Limpopo is the only town in South Africa that borders the Kruger National Park.

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It is one of the largest national parks in the world, with an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 sq mi) The park is approximately 360 kilometres (220 mi) long, and has an average width of 65 kilometres (40 mi). At its widest point, the park is 90 kilometres (56 mi) wide from east to west.

To the north and south of the park two rivers, the Limpopo and the Crocodile respectively, act as its natural boundaries. To the east the Lebombo Mountains separate it from Mozambique. Its western boundary runs parallel with this range, roughly 65 kilometres (40 mi) distant. The park varies in altitude between 200 metres (660 ft) in the east and 840 metres (2,760 ft) in the south-west near Berg-en-Dal. The highest point in the park is here, a hill called Khandzalive. Several rivers run through the park from west to east, including the Sabie, Olifants, Crocodile, Letaba, Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers.

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Useful information about the Kruger National Park:

 

Climate

The climate of the Kruger National Park and Lowveld is subtropical. Summer days are humid and hot with temperatures often soaring to above 38 °C (100 °F). The rainy season is from September until May. The Kruger National Park website lists September and October as the driest periods, culminating in rains late in October. The dry winter season is the ideal time to visit this region for various reasons. There is less chance of contracting malaria and the days are milder. Viewing wildlife is more rewarding as the vegetation is more sparse and animals are drawn to the waterholes to drink every morning and evening.

Vegetation

Plants life in the park consists of four main areas:

Birds

Out of the 517 species of birds found at Kruger, 253 are residents, 117 non-breeding migrants, and 147 nomads. Some of the larger birds require large territories or are sensitive to habitat degradation. Six of these species, which are by and large restricted to Kruger and other extensive conservation areas, have been assigned to a fanciful grouping called the 'Big Six Birds'. They are the Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle, Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard, Ground Hornbill and the reclusive Pel's Fishing Owl, which is localized and seldom seen. There are between 25 and 30 breeding pairs of Saddle-billed Storks in the park, besides a handful of non-breeding individuals. In 2012 178 family groups of Ground Hornbills roamed the park and 78 nests were known, of which 50% were active.

Mammals

All the Big Five game animals are found at Kruger National Park, which has more species of large mammals than any other African Game Reserve (at 147 species). There are webcams set up to observe the wildlife.

The park stopped culling elephants in 1994 and tried translocating them, but by 2004 the population had increased to 11,670 elephants, by 2006 to approximately 13,500 and by 2009 to 11,672. The park's habitats can only sustain about 8,000 elephants. The park started using annual contraception in 1995, but has stopped that due to problems with delivering the contraceptives and upsetting the herds.

Kruger supports packs of the endangered African Wild Dog, of which there are thought to be only about 400 in the whole of South Africa.

Wildlife Population As of 2009
Species Count Species Count
African Buffalo 27,000 African Wild Dog 150
Black Rhinoceros 350 White Rhinoceros 7,000 to 12,000
Burchell's Zebra 17,797 Bushbuck 500
Cheetah 120 Common Eland over 300
Giraffe 5,114 Greater Kudu 5,798
Hippopotamus 3,000 Lion 2,800
Leopard 2,000 Spotted Hyena 2,000
Elephant 11,672 Waterbuck 5,000
Blue Wildebeest 9,612 Impala 150,000

Reptiles

Kruger houses 114 species of reptile, including black mamba and 3000 crocodiles.

Amphibians and fish

Thirty-three species of amphibians are found in the Park, as well as 50 fish species. A Zambesi shark, Carcharhinus leucas, also known as the bull shark, was caught at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers in July 1950. Zambezi sharks tolerate fresh water and can travel far up rivers like the Limpopo.