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1) The Kruger National Park lies in the northeastern corner of South Africa in an area known as the Lowveld. It is about 20 000 square kilometres in extent and in the mid 1800’s this vast tract of land was almost completely unchartered. Early pioneers and adventurers, undaunted by the prospect of crossing unknown territory, pushed through this way on horseback and ox wagon in search of new horizons.

2) South Africa’s ‘first people’, the Bushmen, inhabited this region for centuries. Iron Age people also lived in the area, the walled settlement at Thulamela near Pafuri in the far north providing evidence of those who settled in the vicinity after the fall of Great Zimbabwe in 1450. Thulamela means either ‘place of giving birth’ in Venda or ‘hill of no vegetation’ in Shona, but whatever the name myths and legends abound about this ancient kingdom

3) The Voortrekker leader Louis Trichardt and his party crossed this part of the country in 1837, with the aim of reaching the sea at Delagoa Bay and establishing contact with the Portuguese. They suffered severe deprivations along the way, their biggest challenges being malaria, tsetse flies and the wild animals they encountered. Elephants and lions were a real problem to travellers at the time.

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Paul Kruger monument at Kruger Gate. Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga. South Africa

4) The abundant wildlife found on the endless plains of the Lowveld became the target of wholesale slaughter by hunters, traders and trophy seekers and by the turn of the 20th century the area had been almost completely denuded of large game. In order to save the last of the great herds, the Sabi Game Reserve was established in 1898. After some expansion it was renamed the Kruger National Park in 1926, in honour of President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal Republic. The Park was opened to the public in 1927.

5) Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton was appointed first warden of the reserve in 1902. A Scottish cavalry officer who had fought in the Anglo Boer War, he initially accepted the post purely as a two-year secondment from his regiment. He was, however, completely enthralled with the challenge that lay ahead, when a map of the area showed a few unsurveyed watercourses on an otherwise blank page. For the next 44 years he worked tirelessly to return the Kruger National Park to the wildlife sanctuary it is today.

Have a look at our other Kruger Park pics.

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The "Queen's" grave at Thulamela Cultural Site. Near Punda Maria Camp. Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga. South Africa. Thulamela is a stone walled site situated in the far north region of the Park and dates back to approximately 450 – 500 years before present .

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