History of the Kruger National Park
Rock art in Kruger © B. Hilton-Barber
An extraordinary and colourful history including the San people, Voortrekkers and various gold prospectors.
The first explorer to set foot in the region was the Dutchman François de Cuiper who led a Dutch East India Company expedition
to explore. However, the expedition was attacked and driven by local tribes-people near Gomondwane. Only around 1838 Voortrekker expeditions led by Lous Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg were able to successfully establish forward outposts.
Hundreds of Europeans and farmers came to the Lowveld lured by rumours of gold and the great quantity of valuable commodities such as ivory and skins. This caused the number of game to dramatically decrease due to hunting and trading of animal skins
President Paul Kruger was told about the rapid destruction of wildlife in the area by hunters, after which he succeeded to persuade the Transvaal parliament to establish a protected area for wildlife
in the Lowveld region.
The very first ranger in the reserve was Paul Bester
who made his residence in a rustic rondavel (hut) which is now the site of the headquarters camp, Skukuza. Documents concerning the History of the Kruger National Park can be viewed at the Skukuza Library.
Half a million years ago, the first stone age hunters roamed the plains in search of game. Later the plains were inhabited by modern day bush men who have left fascinating rock paintings all over
the Republic of South Africa. The Kruger National Park contains over one hundred sites of these paintings.
The Kruger National Park is a living memorial to President Paul Kruger
and those who have upheld his vision of a protected wilderness reserve which will forever remind us of that which we are so dangerously close to losing.