The Importance of Kruger National Park: Preserving South Africa’s Big Five by Hannah Parker

Kruger National Park is one of the most renowned protected areas in the world and is a South African national symbol.  It was established under government protection in 1898, but was not open to the public until 1927.  This national park is close to two million hectares and home to 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 116 reptiles, 507 birds, and 147 mammals.  This wildlife experience is top ranked in Africa and is home to the Big Five: lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceros.  These particular animals hold this dominant name because they have been known as the five most dangerous animals to hunt since the early 1900’s.  Although Kruger National Park has become highly developed and popular to the public, it is still an unbelievable experience to witness these animals in their natural habitat. 

Eco-tourism is an important factor in preserving Kruger National Park.  Kruger is one of the most visited national parks in South Africa and it generates over one million people annually. Tourism funds the park rangers and the various campsites, which make the safari experience unforgettable.  In order to ensure eco-tourism, the wildlife and species of this park must be preserved. The park rangers understand the variety of animals, beautiful aesthetics, and isolation from developments is the pull to this park in particular.  The park is extremely isolated, set a day’s drive from large cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, and it is vast covering 350km along the Mozambique border. 

The Big Five are a large part of the African culture as well.  The conservation of these animals is an important aspect in keeping Kruger National Park alive. These keystone species create habitats for new animals and fertilize the grounds, which keep the park ever changing and constantly full of new environments.  South Africa is known for its beauty and extensive wildlife making the preservation of animals and upkeep of the park a high priority.  Kruger is a vast area of undeveloped land, which attracts tourists and conservationists.  Besides visiting Kruger to see the amazing wildlife, the park is used for educational purposes as well.  It is a major research and conservation center used to study the mass amounts of animals and wildlife, and how they interact with one another.  The untouched beauty of the park has enabled exotic species to be found and has kept the animals in their natural habitat. 

Elephant poaching and the hunting of animals is another reason why Kruger National Park has been significant in preserving the wildlife.  The demand for ivory has been an important issue throughout the continent and it has cut the African elephant population in half.  Large national parks in Africa, such as Kruger, work everyday on maintaining an appropriate environment for the wildlife and preserving the beauty which makes the park unique.  The exotic wildlife has not affected the human population so it depicts the example of a wildlife sanctuary.  Lastly, the campsites and resorts that have been developed throughout South Africa and Kruger in general have maintained an eco-friendly environment.  While in Kruger, our class stayed in the Skukuza Camp, which housed two students to each hut.  The accommodations constantly reminded the residents to conserve water and saved on laundry services.  By remaining eco-friendly, the campsite is largely populous which generates more revenue.  Skukuza is one of the most popular camps in Kruger and their environmentally friendly resources are a main attraction.  Through all of these factors, Kruger National Park has remained one of the most popular safari locations within Africa.  The park is remarkable in preserving the environment and the wildlife, and a visit to Kruger National Park will result in an unforgettable experience.  Do you believe tourism will begin to ruin conservation of the wildlife in the future?

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