History of the Kruger National Park

History of the Kruger National Park

The first discoveries of early inhabitants in Kruger National Park

Archaeologists from the University of Pretoria took a keen interest in Kruger National Park during the 1970’s. This lead to the discoveries of hand tools and artifacts of prehistoric human inhabitants – Homon Erectus – that used to live in the area known to us as the Kruger National Park. The remains date back to the period 100 000 and 500 000 years ago. This discovery was not at all surprising as previous discoveries of anthropoid apes have been discovered half a century earlier in South Africa.

Further discoveries of middle Stone Age were also found, dating back 100 000 to 30 000 years ago. Late Stone Age discoveries have also been made dating back 30 000 to 20 000 years ago. Finally, discoveries dating back somewhat 1 500 years ago of the Iron Age have also been found in the Kruger National Park.

A total of 300 archaeological sites have been discovered till thus far in the Kruger National Park.

Many of these historical sites features the remains of earlier humans hand and stone tools, pots, spearheads, and rock paintings, to mention but a few.

The first discoveries of early inhabitants in Kruger National Park

Archaeologists from the University of Pretoria took a keen interest in Kruger National Park during the 1970’s. This lead to the discoveries of hand tools and artifacts of prehistoric human inhabitants – Homon Erectus – that used to live in the area known to us as the Kruger National Park. The remains date back to the period 100 000 and 500 000 years ago. This discovery was not at all surprising as previous discoveries of anthropoid apes have been discovered half a century earlier in South Africa.

Further discoveries of middle Stone Age were also found, dating back 100 000 to 30 000 years ago. Late Stone Age discoveries have also been made dating back 30 000 to 20 000 years ago. Finally, discoveries dating back somewhat 1 500 years ago of the Iron Age have also been found in the Kruger National Park.

A total of 300 archaeological sites have been discovered till thus far in the Kruger National Park.

Many of these historical sites features the remains of earlier humans hand and stone tools, pots, spearheads, and rock paintings, to mention but a few.

The first white people in the area now known as Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is the biggest wildlife reserve in South Africa, boasting an impressive 2 million hectares of sheer wilderness. Not only is Kruger world-renowned for its size, but it is also known to be the biggest controlled nature conservation area in the world.

Kruger National Park is situated in the northern corner of Transvaal, between the Limpopo River in the North and the Crocodile River in the South. Kruger borders Mozambique in the East, with the Lebombo mountains rage creating a natural division between the two countries.

The first white people to enter this renowned area we know as Kruger today was an expedition group of 31 men that were led under the orders of Francois de Kuiper in 1725. Delagoa Bay, later known as Lourenco Marques and now known as Maputo, was then in the ownership of the Netherlands and the expedition is sent by the East Holland company to investigate possible trade opportunities with some of the nomadic tribes.

The second white people that visited this area, were two groups of Voortrekkers that traveled through the central part of the area and entered Mozambique by way of the Shilowa and Mbatzipoort. In 1844, Chief Captain A.H Potgieter and the Mozambican authorities agreed to plan a border between the Transvaal and Mozambique. Two years later, Potgieter obtained the area between the Crocodile and the Olifants River using trade transactions by the Swazi’s.

The first white people in the area now known as Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is the biggest wildlife reserve in South Africa, boasting an impressive 2 million hectares of sheer wilderness. Not only is Kruger world-renowned for its size, but it is also known to be the biggest controlled nature conservation area in the world.
Kruger National Park is situated in the northern corner of Transvaal, between the Limpopo River in the North and the Crocodile River in the South. Kruger borders Mozambique in the East, with the Lebombo mountains rage creating a natural division between the two countries.
The first white people to enter this renowned area we know as Kruger today was an expedition group of 31 men that were led under the orders of Francois de Kuiper in 1725. Delagoa Bay, later known as Lourenco Marques and now known as Maputo, was then in the ownership of the Netherlands and the expedition is sent by the East Holland company to investigate possible trade opportunities with some of the nomadic tribes.
The second white people that visited this area, were two groups of Voortrekkers that traveled through the central part of the area and entered Mozambique by way of the Shilowa and Mbatzipoort. In 1844, Chief Captain A.H Potgieter and the Mozambican authorities agreed to plan a border between the Transvaal and Mozambique. Two years later, Potgieter obtained the area between the Crocodile and the Olifants River using trade transactions by the Swazi’s.

Gold Rush attracts more people to the area known as modern-day Kruger National Park

The discovery of gold in 1869 in the Lydenburg district, drew many people to the Lowveld in search of new riches and fortune. The area of the Lowveld was still unknown and new to many, but soon the Lowveld was seen as a hunter’s paradise. Even the cattle farmers from the Highveld brought their animals to graze the field during wintertime as they hunt for meat supplies, skins, horns, and trophies.

Hunting leads to diminishing numbers of wildlife in the Lowveld

Due to hunting popularity, the number of wildlife dropped drastically. In 1884, President S.J.P Kruger suggested to the House of Assembly that a nature reserve be set in place to help protect the wildlife and conserve nature. During this time there were no positive responses to his suggestions and there was no desire to peruse nature conservation efforts.

Kruger Park’s very first Ranger

The first Ranger of the Kruger National Park was a South African-born policeman from Barberton named Paul Bester. He erected the first man-made accommodation in the form of a round hut known to South Africans as a rondawel. His rondawel can still be seen at the Skukuza Rest Camp today.

The second Ranger in Kruger National Park

Sergeant Izak Holtzhausen was the second appointed Ranger after Paul Bester. He was appointed to keep an eye on things in the Kruger National Park.

Proclamation of the Park

14 Years after Paul Kruger’s plea to conserve and protect wildlife numbers, an area between the Crocodile River and Sabie River has been proclaimed a nature reserve. New hunting law was set in place on 26 March 1898, stating that hunting was strictly prohibited in this area and any person disobeying this law will be prosecuted accordingly. The Sabie and Shingwedzi reserve that was established in 1903 as well as the current central area of the Kruger, was proclaimed a national reserve, known as Sabie Game Reserve in 1926. The land surface of the reserve was then only 4 600km².

Proclamation of the Park

14 Years after Paul Kruger’s plea to conserve and protect wildlife numbers, an area between the Crocodile River and Sabie River has been proclaimed a nature reserve. New hunting law was set in place on 26 March 1898, stating that hunting was strictly prohibited in this area and any person disobeying this law will be prosecuted accordingly. The Sabie and Shingwedzi reserve that was established in 1903 as well as the current central area of the Kruger, was proclaimed a national reserve, known as Sabie Game Reserve in 1926. The land surface of the reserve was then only 4 600km².

The first warden of Kruger National Park

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.

Finally, in the year 2002, the Kruger topped the one million visitors mark

During this year, the dream of a transnational park was realized when an agreement was finally reached between South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to merge conservation areas in their respective countries to form the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Once this process is completed,  the Transfrontier Park will be the biggest game reserve in the world.

Finally, in the year 2002, the Kruger topped the one million visitors mark

During this year, the dream of a transnational park was realized when an agreement was finally reached between South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique to merge conservation areas in their respective countries to form the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Once this process is completed,  the Transfrontier Park will be the biggest game reserve in the world.

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