After the second outbreak of the Anglo Boer War in 1899, the Kruger was almost forgotten and neglected. After a peaceful reunion in 1902, Lord Milner decided that it is in the Parks’ best interest to be re-proclaimed and so he appointed the first warden of the Kruger National Park – James Stevenson-Hamilton. He pursued his new passion and lived to work 40 years as a warden in the Park, after which he retired in 1946.
James Stevenson-Hamilton together with a small force of rangers enthusiastically enforced his mandate to let the animals rule the reserve – these actions lead to his unpopularity to anyone getting in his way. He removed people from the reserve, some of which including the indigenous people (tribes) who had lived in the area for centuries. These enforcements led him to get a nickname from the Shangaan people. The nickname was “Skukuza” meaning “the man who has turned everything upside down” or “the man who swept clean”, referring to his work to stamp out poaching.
Stevenson-Hamilton also fought the battle against hunters and poachers, mining entrepreneurs, and farmers who believed they had a claim to the land. Hamilton’s vision of creating a national park that can be sustained by tourism reached climax in 1926. That was when the Shingwedzi and Sabie Reserves merged and the 70 privately owned farms between them were purchased by the government to form a consolidated block of land, known today as the Kruger National Park.
The Park was opened to tourism in 1927, with only three cars that entered the Reserve in its very ﬁrst year. After a slow start, the Kruger soon gained popularity and was soon seen as a top destination. Several campsites along with 3 600 kilometers of roads have been built in the first decade of Kruger’s proclamation.
Later on, in 1950 a research station, as well as a rest camp, has been built at Skukuza. This transformed Stevenson-Hamilton’s base camp into the “capital” of Kruger. By 1969, the Park was fenced in by 18 000 kilometers of wire and poles. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, there was enormous pressure on the government to allow the northern part of Kruger to be mined for coal, but this was resisted and the Park was rededicated to conservation.
In the 1990’s, Kruger went through a process of commercialization by which certain services and activities were outsourced and several new private camps were allowed to develop.