History of Skukuza Camp

Founder portraits at Skukuza

Learn about the rich and interesting history of Skukuza in Kruger National Park, South Africa.


The Kruger Tablets on the road to Tshokwane commemorate Paul Kruger, President of the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek, who was responsible for the proclamation of the land between the Sabie and Crocodile rivers as the Sabie Game Reserve in 1898.

Skukuza Camp was originally known as Sabie Bridge (the old railway bridge can still be seen at the rest camp) or simply Reserve, and the name was changed to Skukuza in 1936. The name Skukuza comes for the Tsonga name for James Stevenson-Hamilton, first warden of the Sabie Game Reserve, Forerunner of the Kruger National Park) from 1902. Literally translated, it means 'he who sweeps clean' and refers to Stevenson-Hamilton's efforts to control poaching in the early days.

Stevenson-Hamilton was the driving force behind the establishment of the Kruger National Park, and saw his efforts rewarded when the park was proclaimed in 1926, thereby amalgamating the Sabie and Shingwedzi game reserves and incorporating the land between them. The Kruger National Park probably owes more to Stevenson-Hamilton than against those opposed to conservation, who would like to have seen the area of the Park opened up for farming. By the time he retired in 1946, after 44 years' service, the foundation had been laid for the Park to become the internationally acclaimed conservation establishment that it is today.

In 1902, Harry Wolhuter joined Stevenson-Hamilton as assistant warden. The story of how Wolhuter survived a life and death struggle with a Lion has become almost legendary. In August 1904, after patroling not far from Tshokwane, he and his Horse were set upon by two Lions. He was knocked from his Horse and seized by an adult Lion.

Armed only nothing more than a pocket knife, he managed to deliver a fatal blow to the Lion and take refuge in a tree while his brave Dog kept the second Lion at bay for several hours until help arrived.

The knife that Wolhuter used to slay the Lion, as well as the Lion skin, are arguably the most famous exhibits in the Stevenson-Hamilton Memorial Museum at Skukusa.



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