17 Kruger National Park Facts: Its Biodiversity, Importance And More | Kidadl


17 Kruger National Park Facts: Its Biodiversity, Importance And More

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Kruger National Park is the largest natural wilderness park and game reserve in Africa.

It hosts a large number of plants, animals, birds, and insects, many of which are native or protected species. There are many activities available to experience the beauty of the park firsthand, such as wildlife safaris, bush walks, wilderness trails, and game viewing.

Named after former Transvaal president Paul Kruger, the park has evolved over the years to become the most widely visited and renowned national park and one of the largest game reserves in Africa. So, read on to learn more about this spectacular gem of Africa!

What To Know Before Visiting Kruger National Park

Being the largest nature reserve and wilderness protection park in South Africa, Kruger National Park has something for everyone!

The cost of entering the park is collected per day and varies depending on the type of citizenship you hold. For international visitors, the ticket cost is $27 for adults and $7 for children, while for South African residents, it is $7 and $4, respectively.

The main attraction, of course, is the animals, many of which you will spot peacefully going about their day while on a wilderness safari. The ones to watch out for are the big five: the most dangerous and fascinating wild animals that roam the park. These are the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and black and white rhinos!

If you are looking to find tigers, you are out of luck, as they are not native to the continent of Africa and cannot be found naturally here.

However, there are known to be around 1600 lions currently residing in the park; that's a lot of lions!

Some other amazing animals you can view on your journey are giraffes, crocodiles, hippos, African wild dogs, hyenas, waterbucks, zebras, cheetahs, and wildebeest, along with a host of other bird species, mammals, and reptiles!

Similarly, keep an eye out for the 'Big Six Birds': the saddle-billed stork, the kori bustard, the martial eagle, the lappet-faced vulture, Pel’s fishing owl, and the southern ground hornbill. These fascinating birds are rarely found anywhere else, and to set your eyes upon them in their natural habitat is a treat for sure.

Beside birds and animals, the park boasts over 2000 species of plants, trees, and flowers—all of which can be experienced along the walking trail, a guided tour of the wilderness. The Little five, consisting of smaller animals that are among the showcased species of the park, can also be seen on the trail. They are the buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, rhino beetle, leopard tortoise, and antlion.

There are nine unique walking trails around the park, all of which are accompanied by a guide. Though driving is the best way to see the larger species, exploring the park on foot is the best way to observe the wild side up close and personal!

Beside wilderness trails and game viewing, there are a number of other activities for families and friend groups to enjoy all across the park! This includes a beautiful golf course, backpacking trails, mountain bike trails, eco trails, and birding!

There is also accommodation available if you wish to stay the night and revel in the beauty of nature after dark. There are 12 main rest camps spread across the park, which contain shops, eateries, first aid stations, as well as gas stations to top your car up. There are also five bushveld camps, two lodges in the bush, and four satellite camps as well. These are all taken care of by park management.

If you want to take your park stay up a notch, then there are 15 luxury lodges available on the premises. However, these are under private management.

One of the most relaxing locations in the park is the Crocodile Bridge rest camp, located on the banks of the Crocodile River. It is quite far from the main hustle and bustle of the park, and as an added bonus, you are most likely to spot lions here!

Location Of Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is located in the country of South Africa and is situated in the upper northeast. It covers parts of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. The park itself is quite large, covering a total area of 7,576 sq mi (19,620 sq km).

The park is bordered by two rivers to the north and south, with the Limpopo (north) and Crocodile (south) rivers acting as natural boundaries. It is separated from the coastal country of Mozambique by the Lebombo mountains. The boundary to the west is parallel to this mountain range.

Kruger National Park is the largest nature reserve in Africa.

Plants In Kruger National Park

There are over 2000 plant species that can be found all over the park, which is not surprising as it is the largest nature reserve in Africa. This includes 336 species of trees and 17 protected species of plants.

Some of the most recognizable or breathtaking plant species you will find here are the baobab tree, jackalberry, lala palm, sausage tree, tamboti, round-leafed teak, marula, mopane, lowveld fig, raisin bush, common coral tree, natal mahogany, fever tree, common cluster fig, Delagoa thorn, red bushwillow, monkey orange, knob thorn, leadwood, and the Transvaal mustard tree.

The baobab, marula, fever tree, mopane, and knob thorn are actually known as the 'Big 5' trees of the park. Make sure you catch sight of all five on your visit!

If you're ever planning to visit Kruger National Park with friends and family, here is a fun game you can play! Take a look at pictures of all the special trees and plants in the area and create a scavenger hunt list. If you see one, tick it off. The first one to spot all of these unique plants wins!

Birds Of Prey In Kruger National Park

There are over 500 bird species in Kruger National Park, which includes a number of endangered and protected species. The most notable of these are the birds of prey, which include a vast range of raptors (vicious birds of prey) like eagles, falcons, hawks, kestrels, kites, owls and owlets, vultures, and more.

Out of the 83 species of raptors found on the continent of South Africa, 58 can be spotted in and around the skies of Kruger National Park. Out of these, the largest raptor species residing in the park is the lappet-faced vulture. In contrast, the smallest raptor is the pearl-spotted owlet.

The major groups of birds of prey found in the park are:

Vultures: These large, carnivorous birds usually do not hunt for themselves but rather swoop in on the remains that other animals leave behind, and can be seen picking at animal carcasses. The species found in the park are the lappet-faced vulture, Cape vulture, white-headed vulture, hooded vulture, and white-faced vulture.

Buzzards: They are medium raptors and can be recognized by their bare, unfeathered legs and slightly hooked beaks. They tend to hunt from perches, sizing their prey up before they swoop in for the kill. Jackal buzzards and steppe buzzards are permanent residents of the park.

Kites: Called kites for their amazing agility and speed while flying, these small to medium-sized birds of prey are very common in the park. They have unusually long wings, which is what identifies them as kites. In addition to black kites, black-shouldered kites, African cuckoo hawks, and yellow-billed kites can commonly be seen in the skies above the park.

Owls: These round, nocturnal raptors are a regular sight here, nesting in the many trees of Kruger National Park during the day and swooping down on prey at night. Some of the owl species you are sure to spot on your tour are the barn owl, African scops owl, African grass owl, southern white-faced owl, pearl-spotted owlet, Verreaux's eagle-owl, African wood owl, African barred owlet, spotted eagle-owl, Pel's fishing-owl, and marsh owl.

Secretary Bird: This breathtaking, terrestrial bird of prey can be found strutting around the park very commonly, displaying its vividly colored crest. There is only a single species in this group of birds, and they can commonly be seen around the veld area.

Eagles And Hawk: Probably the most widely known birds of prey, these large birds are ones you do not want to get on the wrong side of! Their powerful legs are completely feathered, and they are the most ambitious hunters of all the other birds in the park, even taking on small and medium mammals and other birds! There are many species of this bird group in the park; you can find the Martial eagle, Verreauxs' eagle, Booted eagle, Less Spotted Eagle, African Hawk-eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Wahlberg's eagle, long-crested eagle, Ayres's hawk-eagle, and Steppe eagle dominating the skies.

Snake-Eagles: Like eagles, they feed primarily on snakes and other reptiles. Their lower legs, however, unlike those of eagles, are not fully feathered. The black-chested snake eagle, brown snake eagle, and bateleur are some of the most commonly sighted snake eagles here.

Falcons And Kestrels: These raptors are on the smaller side, but make up for their lack of size with their insane diving speed. The difference between falcons and kestrels is that while falcons swoop down directly and pick their prey up, kestrels tend to hover above their prey before attacking. The falcon species you will find here are the peregrine falcon, Eurasian hobby, red-footed falcon, Amur falcon, and lanner falcon, while the kestrels are represented by the lesser kestrel, rock kestrel, and Dickinson's kestrel.

Fish-Eating Birds: The African fish eagle and the osprey are two unique birds in the park, and they are also quite rare to spot! They prefer to feed on fish from the many rivers as their main source of food. The signature call of the African fish eagle is thought to be an extremely rare and delightful experience for birders!

Out of all these birds, the main attraction is the big six birds of the park- The kori bustard, lappet-faced vulture, martial eagle, Pel’s fishing owl, southern ground hornbill, and the saddle-billed stork.

Founders Of Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park initially came to be known as the Sabi Game Reserve, which was established between the Sabi and Crocodile rivers in 1898. This action was taken by the then president of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger, who realized that restricted hunting of Lowveld bush animals needed to be enacted to prevent overhunting them into endangerment.

It only truly became a national park when the first warden, James Stevenson-Hamilton, was appointed in 1902. Under his watch, all hunting was banned in the reserve and it was merged with the nearby Shingwedzi Game Reserve in 1926, after which it was renamed Kruger National Park in honor of the man who bought his vision of protecting the animals to life.

The park itself, apart from a range of wildlife species, contains a number of historically important archeological sites as well. There are many rock art sites scattered throughout the 5 million acre (2 million ha) area, as well as many archeological sites. Many ancient artifacts have been found here as well, confirming the existence of human settlements in the area in the past.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

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