We bring you the history of the Kruger National Park, we will be doing this in series, so look out for the remaining posts.
500 000 years ago Homo erectus roamed the area where the Kruger National Park is now based, cultural artifacts from 100 000 to 30 000 years ago have been found there as well. More than 300 archaeological sites of Stone Age humans have been found, making the Kruger National Park a place of great history. Archaeological ruins can be found at Thulamela and Masorini, you can also find San Rock Art throughout the park.
In more recent times the San (Bushmen) and Iron Age peoples lived in the area about 1500 years ago making way for the Nguni people of further North and the European explorers and settlers who arrived in the 19th century.
The Kruger National Park was established by Paul Kruger in 1898, at the time he was the President of the Transvaal. Paul Kruger decided to establish a protected area for wildlife in the Lowveld in 1884, due to the decrease of animals in the area because of European and farmers hunting the animals for their skins and horns. It was not named “Kruger National Park” until a few years later. Kruger’s plan only came into action in 1898 when the Sabie Game Reserve was established.
James Stevenson Hamilton was appointed as the first Warden of the park in 1902, at the time it was still known as the Sabie Game Reserve, later in 1927 it merged with Shinwedzi Game Reserve, making it the beloved Kruger National Park.
In 1923 the South African Railways (SAR) put together a tour to the Lowveld and the border of Maputo, the trains would travel from Komatipport to Sabie Bridge during the day, a game ranger would accompany the tourists and he would stay with them at Sabie Bridge. At the time there was no overnight facilities therefore tourists slept on the train.
This was well received among the tourists, and in 1926 to promote tourism it was decided to add a main road with various secondary roads for game viewing.
The lack of accommodation facilities in the park created a problem for tourism. Early in 1927, the South African Railways (SAR) approached the board of the park with ideas to add quarters. The board agreed to the building of roads, rest huts and other facilities. The SAR, in exchange, undertook to provide all transport, by rail and road and to launch advertising campaigns, catering services and to pay the board a percentage of the income received.
The first ever tourists entered the park in 1927 for a fee of one pound, you can find evidence of these accounts at the Stevenson-Hamilton memorial library.