Kruger National Park and Surrounds
Kruger National ParkKruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometres (7,523 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 park has nine main gates allowing entrance to the different camps
About Skukuza and James Stevenson-HamiltonSkukuza is situated on the banks of the Sabie River in the south of the park and was originally a Tsonga chiefdom under the authority of Chief Ngomane and his people. The Tsonga people of this area were great big game hunters, hunting Africa's big five as well as smaller animals. In addition, they used the Sabie River for fishing. The land where the Skukuza camp is situated was chief Ngomane's palace (eHubyeni) and he used to conduct tribal meetings there. When the government decided to establish a national park during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Skukuza was identified as a potential site because of the Sabie River flowing nearby, and the abundance of leopard, lion, buffalo, rhino and elephant in the immediate area. The government relocated the Tsonga people to villages around Bushbuckridge and Hazyview, and established the largest game reserve camp in South Africa, Skukuza rest camp
Skukuza has a number of historical sites including 3 museums and a library. The camp center consists of shops and restaurants with the Selati Train restaurant situated on an old train platform east of the center. There is a main reception where it is possible to book game drives, bush braais or guided walks in Kruger. Skukuza also has 2 swimming pools, a golf course, garage, police station, post office and a bank. The camp is spotted with huts, guest houses and basic camping facilities. Nearby the camp is a nursery where plants native to the region can be viewed and purchased. There is an airport 5 km away, called Skukuza Airport, with direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg on a daily basis. SAA Express operates two daily from Cape Town and OR Tambo, as well as two daily flight from Skukuza to both OR Tambo and Cape Town International.
Poachers and land rightsOn 30 April 1946, after 44 years as warden of the Kruger Park, James Stevenson- Hamilton retired and was replaced by Colonel J. A. B. Sandenbergh of the South African Air Force. During 1959, work commenced to completely fence the park boundaries with the purpose of curbing the spread of diseases, facilitate border patrolling and inhibit the movement of poachers. Work started on the southern boundary along the Crocodile River and in 1960 the western and northern boundaries were fenced, followed by the eastern boundary with Mozambique.
The Makuleke area in the northern part of the park was forcibly taken from the Makuleke people by the government in 1969 and about 1500 of them were relocated to land to the South so that their original tribal areas could be integrated into the greater Kruger National Park. In 1996 the Makuleke tribe submitted a land claim for 19,842 hectares (198.42 km2) in the northern part of the Kruger National Park and the land was given back to the Makuleke people. However, they chose not to resettle on the land but rather to engage with the private sector to invest in tourism, thus resulting in the building of several game lodges.
In the late 1990s, the fences between the Kruger Park and Klaserie Game Reserve, Olifants Game Reserve and Balule Game Reserve were removed and these parks were incorporated into the Greater Kruger Park adding 40 000 hectares to the reserve.
Finally, in 2002, Kruger National Park, Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and Limpopo National Park in Mozambique were incorporated into a peace park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
As of 2013, the park's anti-poaching unit consisted of 650 SANParksgame rangers, assisted by the SAPS and the SANDF (including the SAAF). In addition, the park is equipped with two drones borrowed from Denel Dynamics, South Africa and two Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopters, donated by the RAF to augment its air space presence. Automated movement sensors relay intrusions along the Mozambique border to a control center, and a specialist dog unit has been introduced. Buffer zones have been established along the border with Mozambique, from where many poachers have infiltrated the park, as an alternative to costly new fences. The original 150 km long fences were dropped in 2002 to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. The national anti-poaching committee oversees all activities and coordinates interested parties.
Kruger's big game poachers have sophisticated equipment and operate with night vision instruments and large caliber rifles that are fitted with suppressors and high tech telescopes. They are mostly Mozambique citizens that initiate their carefully planned incursions from the Mozambique border region. In 2012 some 200 poachers were apprehended, while about 30 were killed in skirmishes.
In July 2012, a Kruger game ranger and policeman were the first to die in an anti-poaching operation, while other employees reported intimidation by poachers. Rangers in and around the park have been pressured or blackmailed by poaching syndicates to provide intelligence on the whereabouts of rhinos and anti-poaching operations. In December 2012, the park started using a Denel Dynamics Seeker II drone against rhino poachers.
Poachers mostly operate at or near full moon and make no distinction between white and black rhinos. Losses of black rhino are however low due to their reclusive and aggressive nature. With rhino horn fetching in excess of $66,000 per kilogram, the CITES ban on the trade in rhino horn has proved largely ineffectual. The second horn is sometimes hacked from the skull to obtain about 100 ml of moisture that is sold locally as traditional medicine. Poaching related to rhino horn escalated in the 21st century with 949 rhinos killed in Kruger in the first twelve years (2001 to 2012), and over 520 in 2013 alone. A planned memorandum of agreement between South Africa and Vietnam, in addition to the one with China, are seen as necessary milestones in stemming the tide, while negotiations with Thailand have not yet started.The amount of rhino horn held in storage is not publicly known. Since 2009 some Kruger rhinos have been fitted with invisible tracing devices in their bodies and horns which enable officials to locate their carcasses and to track the smuggled horns by satellite. South Africa's 22,000 white and black rhinos, of which 12,000 are found in Kruger, represent some 93% of these species' world population. Kruger experienced significant elephant poaching in the 1980s, which has since abated. It holds over 48 tons of ivory in storage. According to Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), it is allowed to sell 30 tons. Following approval by CITES, 47 metric tons of stockpiled ivory from Kruger were auctioned on 6 November 2008. The sale fetched approximately US$6.7 million which will be used towards increasing anti-poaching activity. The average price for the 63 lots on auction was US$142/kg. It is foreseen that the placement of wire traps to procure meat would eventually become the most challenging form of poaching. A scheme has been proposed to reward adjacent communities with the proceeds of game sales in return for their cooperation in game preservation. The larger communities include Bosbokrand, Acornhoek, Hazyview, Hoedspruit, Komatipoort, Malelane, Marloth Park, Nelspruit and Phalaborwa.