Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
is a South African National Park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,623 km2 (7,576 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (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, respectively. To 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.
Location and 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. It is one of the largest national parks in the world, with an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi). The park is approximately 360 km (220 mi) long, and has an average width of 65 km (40 mi). At its widest point, the park is 90 km (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 km (40 mi) distant. The park varies in altitude between 200 m (660 ft) in the east and 840 m (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.
The climate of the Kruger National Park and lowveld is subtropical/tropical, specifically a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen BSh). Summer days are humid and hot. The rainy season is from September until May. The Kruger National Park website lists September and October as the driest periods, culminating in the beginning of the rainy season late in October. Because the park spans 360 kilometres or 220 miles from north to south, climate can vary throughout the park. Skukuza in the southern part of the park is about 2 to 3 °C (3.6 to 5.4 °F) cooler throughout the year than Pafuri in the north, with significantly more rainfall.
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, by 2009 to 11,672, and by 2012 to 16,900. The park’s habitats may only be able to sustain about 8,000 elephants, though this is not entirely clear. Elephants do change plant growth and density in the park, and some species, such as wildebeests, clearly benefit from an increase in grasslands. The park started an attempt at using 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.
Kruger Park contains twelve main rest camps, as well as several smaller camps scattered throughout the park. There are also several concessions licensed to private companies with their own camps.
The main camps in the park are larger camps containing shops, restaurants or cafeterias, petrol stations and first aid stations. The largest camp, which also serves as the headquarters for Kruger, is Skukuza.