Kruger National Park History - South Africa

History of the Kruger National Park Park. From its founder Paul Kruger up until present day South Africa and its current challenges.


Kruger National Park History - Introduction

The Kruger Park is more than just a normal national park. The San, the indigenous people of South Africa, have played a huge part in shaping the history of the Kruger National Park. The first San occupied this area about half a million years ago.

The Bushmen have left fascinating rock paintings all over the Republic of South Africa. The Kruger Park hosts over a hundred rock paintings which can be viewed on your safari in South Africa.

Explorers, adventurers and miners explored the vicinity of the area. They pitched their tents near Pilgrim's Rest, where a gold was found and the first mining town was built.

The ones that were not as successful in finding gold, focused on the hunting of wild animals and sold the skins and animal horns to traders.

Read about an extraordinary and colorful history of the Kruger National Park - from its early days up until its present beauty!

Pilgrim's Rest at the Kruger National Park History
Pilgrim's Rest - a mining town
Louis Trichardt Vortrecker Kruger Park History
Louis Trichardt - Explorer

Among the first explorers reaching the area of the Kruger National Park was the Dutchman François de Cuiper. He undertook an expedition on behalf of the Dutch East India Company into this animal-rich area.

The expedition was unsuccessful as the group was attacked by local tribes in Gomondwane.

An outpost could only be established when Lous Trichardt reached this area. Remains of a post can still be visited in the Kruger Park.


As the first gold was discovered in this area, many adventurers were attracted to this area. Due to the wealth of wildlife, many settlers also started hunting lodges. The trade in ivory and animal skins found buyers around the world.

Small towns were born and the wild animals occupying these areas were hunted mercilessly. Almost all the elephants were hunted until they were nearly extinct.

Many other wild animals were on the verge of extinction.


Kruger National Park Gold found in Pilgrims Rest
1874 - 3,379 kg of gold
Paul Kruger - Founder of the Kruger National Park
Paul Krüger - Founder of the Kruger National Park
  The president during that time was Paul Kruger and he was informed about the rapid destruction of flora and fauna in the area.

He convinced the Transvaal Parliament that the wildlife is a landmark in the area and must be preserved.

At the beginning, the protected area was much smaller than it is nowadays. More and more land was added until the the current size of the national park was reached.

The Kruger National Park was founded on 26 March 1898 under the name''Sabie Game Reserve" by Paul Kruger.

The Great Boer War in South Africa hindered the development of the national park. But after the war,  the British also saw the great potential of the park and appointed the first park manager James Stevenson-Hamilton in 1902 in an attempt to protect the wildlife from hunterns. It is only in 1927 that the first gate was opened to the general public.

James Stevenson-Hamilton fell in love with the country and spent over 40 years of his life in the park. Without Paul Kruger and Stevenson-Hamilton the National Park would not have developed in the way it has developed. After the First World War, the National Park was run by the South African Government and it is still managed by a conservation authority today.

The first Ranger in the reserve was Paul Bester, who used to reside in a rustic rondavel (hut), which was located near Skukuza. A small museum with many documents of the history of the Kruger National Park can be seen in the library in Skukuza.

Many big game hunters made life difficult for the animal rights activists in South Africa. The current term ''Big 5'' is not an invention of a tourism authority. Big game hunters wanted to visit to Africa to hunt five biggest wildlife animals in Africa. These included elephants, buffalos, leopards, lions and rhinos. In South Africa at least, there are many protected areas which meant the survival of the animals. Some neighbouring countries, however, still offer hunting safaris today. Special hunting farms in Tanzania and Namibia provide opportunities for hobby hunters. The animals do not stand a chance. They are presented to the ''Hunter'' and shot without mercy. People still pay enormous sums for hunting trophies!

The Kruger National Park is a living memorial to President Paul Kruger, Paul Bester, James Stevenson-Hamilton and those who supported his vision of a protected game reserve. A monument of the founder of the National Parks you can be seen at the Paul Kruger gate.

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