Fascinating Fun Figures
Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) also known as a Brindled Gnu, Kruger National Park.
At last count, Kruger was home to 1 982 species of plants, 517 of birds, 52 of fish, 35 of amphibians, 119 of reptiles and 147 of mammals (including 11 670 elephants, 150 000 impalas, 17 000 blue wildebeest, 9 000 giraffes, 3 000 hippos and 70 roan antelopes). The park has some 900 kilometres of tar roads, 2 000 kilometres of dirt roads and 4 500 kilometres of management roads.
The Delicate Balance
The Sabie River from the restaurant deck at Lower Sabie Camp, Kruger National Park.
Because life is so water-dependent the conservation of water resources is the basis of all conservation, but wild animals in the Kruger National Park have to compete for water rights with neighbouring farmers. Seven main rivers flow from the west across the Lowveld to feed the park, but the Crocodile, Sabie, Sand, Olifants, Letaba, Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers have all been regulated upstream so as to eliminate their naturally intermittent flow as well as the seasonal floods. The animals of the Kruger National Park are adapted to this variability and the delicate balance of the park's ecosystem depends on it.
Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus).
The birds-eye view allowed for at Lanner Gorge is definitely the best way to see the spectacular Luvuvhu River cutting its way through the Kruger National Park. The problem is that you won't be able to access it on any public road because it lies within the private Makuleke Concession in the far north. The concession is managed by Wilderness Safaris, so you'll have to be a guest of theirs at Pafuri Camp or on the three-night Pafuri Trail before you'll get the privilege of seeing the view that otherwise only lanner falcons and avian sightseers do.
Kruger's Big Tuskers
Big tuskers are prize targets for ivory poachers, and hence few survive. In the protected environment of the Kruger National Park, however, there is a relatively large population of bull elephants with large tusks. Elephants may be reputed to be slow, poor-sighted creatures, but they move with surprising speed and should always be treated with great respect, even from the relative safety of a motor vehicle. Large baobabs in the north of the Kruger National Park have been aged at over 3 000 years. These trees can withstand fierce bush fires but they cannot withstand the persistent attack of elephants who gouge out and strip the thick, moist bark.
By David Bristow