Kruger National Park, A Wondrous Treasure for All
Our world of cam watching revolves around three waterholes, Nkorho Pan, Elephant Plains, and Tembe. They provide us with amazing views inside the lives of many African animals. But whats outside those small areas that we are privy to from the cameras? Lets take a look at one specifically. Nkorho Pan, one of our favorite waterholes is just a stones throw away from the Nkorho Bush Lodge, located in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve and sits just outside the unfenced border of Kruger National Park. National Park? Yes, and a very large one indeed.
Kruger National Park covers an area the size of the country of Israel, 19,633 km² (7,580 miles²). This world-renowned national park is now the largest game preserve in South Africa. In 2003, the park surpassed the one million mark for annual visitors, a goal that has been met every year since then.
Aside from its size, Kruger National Park is more than just a place for tourists to get a glimpse of the African wildlife. Major Stevenson-Hamilton was the first warden of the park and retired in 1946, after serving as warden for 44 years. He is commemorated in the name of parks main rest camp, Skukuza, which is a Xitsonga word that means “he who sweeps clean”, referring to Stevenson-Hamilton's tireless efforts to control poaching. The warden worked very hard to gain official status for the park. In 1926 the government passed the National Parks Act, and proclaimed it Kruger National Park, named after the man who was president at the time, Paul Kruger.
If you plan a visit to the park, be sure and stop by the Stevenson-Hamilton Museum. Not only are there remarkable pieces of history and artifacts, but you will find a unique pocketknife that was used by Stevenson-Hamilton's assistant, Harry Wolhuter, to kill one of two lions that were attacking. His dog kept the other one away until help could arrive. The lions skin is also at the museum.
Years later, the park is still protected, as are the animals for the most part. There are still poachers that kill hundreds of animals a year, but the park employees and those dedicated folks from all over the world do their best to make everyone aware of the beauty of Africa and how it needs to be preserved.
While we watch our little piece of Africa through the eyes of a remarkable camera, Kruger National Park is stretching far and wide to encompass and protect as much of the wildlife as possible. Perhaps being able to watch an occasional giraffe or a troupe of baboons go by, we have been able to see a tiny bit of the big picture. Nkorho Pan is not inside the park, but the animals don't know the boundaries that man has marked. We see them as they wander from place to place, and we hope that they will stay within the safety that the park and neighboring preserves provide.
Enjoy the cams, and remember that we are watching just a tiny area of what Africa is made of. And a big thank you to Stevenson-Hamilton for his years and years of devotion to the belief that national protection would be the one thing that could help save this part of South Africa.