Kruger's Evolution

Creating the Reserve

©Shem Compion
Leopard, Kruger National Park.
In 1902, just after the end of the Second Anglo-Boer War, feisty Scotsman Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton was sent to the Lowveld to run the Sabi Game Reserve. The idea of wildlife conservation had detractors; many people, most notably hunters, were fervently opposed to it especially in one of the last remaining game-rich parts of the country. Even President Kruger had been an opponent, only acceding to the creation of the reserve after the bill's third round through the Volksraad, in 1898.

Fortunately, public opinion changed, and the idea of a national parks system gained momentum. Wily Stevenson-Hamilton curried the support of some influential men, but his masterstroke was proposing a name for the first park (which incorporated Sabi) that few in the Afrikaner government of the day would vote against. Without the Kruger National Park and its far-sighted first warden, it is unlikely we would have any national parks today. The huge bust outside the park's main gate should really be his.

By David Bristow

1902 The Kruger becomes a National Park

Under the effective leadership of James Stevenson-Hamilton, the Sabi and Shingwedzi Reserves were doing well. They had grown exponentially in size and the game was slowly recuperating after decades of untrammelled hunting....more

1903 The Shingwedzi Reserve in Kruger Park

The Shingwedzi region was (and is) very remote and very beautiful. Unlike the south and central parts of the reserve, Shingwedzi is quite mountainous, boasting several dramatic gorges (such as Lanner’s Gorge) and lush river courses....more

1910 The Kruger Park's Game

Once the trauma of the Second Anglo-Boer War ended, the entire country was in a state of uncertainty. The British Lord Milner was now in control and political negotiations with the defeated Boers were underway to hammer out a workable system of government...more

1921 Becoming the Kruger Park

It was make or break time for the Sabi Reserve. Either it was going to be declared a national park, as per the recommendation of the Game Reserves Commission, or it was going to be dissolved and developed by various commercial interests....more

1927 The Kruger National Park Opens its Gates

When the Kruger National Park became a reality, there was much work to be done. One of the stipulations of the National Park Act was that the park must become an asset to the nation and members of the public should be allowed into the reserve...more

1931 Early Problems in the Kruger Park

Early visitors were given a relatively free hand in their new national park. Speeding motor vehicles kicked up huge clouds of dust as they hurtled through the reserve....more

1931 First Accommodation in the Kruger National Park

The first rondavels in the Kruger National Park were built in the ‘Selby’ style (named after an American engineer who served on the Park Board). The design called for units without windows, as it was thought that lions would leap into the huts...more

1994 Kruger National Park

South Africa's transition from an Apartheid state to a democracy in 1994 brought far-reaching changes in almost every sphere. For the first time, the private safari sector was allowed to build and operate lodges within the celebrated park....more

Early Labour Force in the Kruger Park

The discovery of the world’s richest gold reef on the Witwatersrand in 1886 signalled a sea-change in the economic development of the Transvaal in South Africa....more

The Makuleke and the Kruger National Park

The park authorities had to break a number of eggs to make the Kruger National Park omelette. The consequences of these land claims could be catastrophic for the Kruger National Park....more

The Makuleke Land Claim in the Kruger Park

In the beginning, the National Parks Board was resistant about the Makuleke’s claim to the Kruger Park Land. As Lambson Makuleke (a member of the Makuleke) says “It was still the board of yesterday....more