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Ultimate Kruger Park Safaris
Tydon African Safaris invites you to go on one of our safari tours in the magnificent, tranquil land that we call home – South Africa. Our tours are fit for both intrepid explorers and people seeking a peaceful vacation in the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve, with a myriad of safari tours, services and facilities available to meet a variety of tastes. With anything from three to seven day safari tours and exclusive safari tours, you – the family, small group, couple or individual traveller – can look forward to an exceptional safari in the wild. We guarantee you the best Kruger National Park Safari experience.
In all that we do, our main goal is to provide an unprecedented experience that is truly African in every sense of the word. Our safari tours will see you exploring adventurous moments you might have thought never existed or have only heard about, with nature playing centre stage. You will cross paths with a variety of species of wildlife and have the pleasure of listening to back stories about the land and all its inhabitants, as told by our very knowledgeable tour guides and staff.
If this all sounds enticing, then you should feel free to browse our selection of packages, day and exclusive safari tours and select an experience that will leave you wanting more. Select any one of our safari tours and get ready to meet Africa the way it should be met.
The Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is South Africa’s oldest, largest and most established park.
It covers an area of 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 sq. mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 kilometers (220 mi) from north to south and 65 kilometers (40 mi) from east to west. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique.
To the north and south of the park two rivers, the Limpopo and the Crocodile respectively, act as its natural boundaries. North of the Limpopo is Zimbabwe. To the east the Lebombo Mountains separate it from Mozambique. The park varies in altitude between 200 meters (660 ft.) in the east and 840 meters (2,760 ft.) in the south-west near Berg-en-Dal. The highest point in the park is a hill called Khandzalive. Several rivers run through the park from west to east, including the Sabie, Olifants, Crocodile, Letaba, Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers.
The administrative headquarters are in Skukuza. Areas of the park were first protected by the government of the South African Republic in 1898, and it became South Africa’s first national park in 1926.
Here are some interesting historical facts about it:
South Africa’s first people, the Bushmen inhabited this region for centuries. About 500 million years ago, the plains of the Kruger were traversed by Stone Age hunters. There are more than 300 sites of Stone Age man at the Kruger National Park, and there are cultural artefacts that date back over 20 000 years ago. The San came after the Stone Age hunters who left fascinating rock paintings and engravings. The San paintings are a portrayal of European colonists and animals. There are nearly 254 cultural heritage sites at the Kruger National Park, and almost 130 rock art sites.
The Kruger National Park lies in the north-eastern corner of South Africa in an area known as the Lowveld. In the mid 1800’s this vast piece of land was almost completely unchartered. Early pioneers and adventurers, undaunted by the prospect of crossing unknown territory, pushed through this way on horseback and ox wagon in search of new horizons. They suffered severe deprivations along the way, their biggest challenges being malaria, tsetse flies and the wild animals they encountered. Elephants and lions were a real problem to travellers.
The abundant wildlife found on the vast plains of the Lowveld became the target of wholesale slaughter by hunters, traders and trophy seekers and by the turn of the 20th century the area had been almost completely stripped of large game. In order to save the last of the great herds, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve was established in 1898. After some expansion it was renamed the Kruger National Park in 1926. The Kruger National Park is rightly named after President SJP Kruger, a man who fought the good fight for South African wildlife conservation.
The Kruger National Park sports an astonishing array of creatures great and small, including the iconic Big Five. It offers countless activities suiting nature-lovers and adventurous spirits, with everything from 4X4 trails and golf to game drives and safaris on foot. Accommodation is also abundant – Kruger is undoubtedly home to some of the most beautiful and luxurious lodges in the world.
There are 24 rest camps in The Kruger National Park. This is made up of 12 main camps, 4 satellite camps, 6 bushveld camps and 2 bush lodges.
The Rest Camps are ideal for families and groups opting for self-catering accommodation. They offer chalets, bungalows and cottages with basic amenities. There are also communal camp sites with electric power.
- Berg-en-Dal Rest Camp
- Crocodile Bridge Rest Camp
- Letaba Rest Camp
- Lower Sabie Rest Camp
- Mopani Rest Camp
- Olifants Rest Camp
- Orpen Rest Camp
- Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
- Punda Rest Camp
- Satara Rest Camp
- Shingwedzi Rest Camp
- Skukuza Rest Camp
These camps offer total privacy with self-catering facilities and are only available on an exclusive-use basis, meaning that you and your accompanying guests have the whole place to yourselves.
Balule Private Camp
Malelane Private Camp
Maroela Private Camp
Tamboti Tented Camp
Kruger Park accommodation comprising of family cottages and rustic bungalows. There are some lodges that can be reserved for sole-use, ideal for private incentive groups or large family holiday get-togethers.
Bateleur Bush Camp
Biyamiti Bush Camp
Boulders Bush Camp
Roodewal Bush Camp
Shimuwini Bush Camp
Sirheni Bush Camp
Talamati Bush Camp
Kruger Park Activities
Skukza Golf Course
If you are an eager golfer, then treat yourself to a round of golf at Skukuza Golf Course in The Kruger National Park.
Skukuza Golf Course is the only golf course located inside the park. It is a 72par, nine-hole, 18-tee course on the road to Paul Kruger Gate. Built originally in 1972, it is now open to the public.
The course is as close-to-nature as you’ll get with beautiful bushveld trees, wonderful bird life and views over Lake Panic. The course is not fenced in so a round of golf often provides wildlife sightings, some of which have included a buffalo kill made by a lion on the first green and a honeymoon couple’s golf game being put on hold by a pack of wild dogs chasing an impala across the course.
Not to worry, a close eye is kept on the golf course by the parks staff to keep dangerous animals away, and no golfers have ever been injured by a wild animal.
Kruger Park 4X4 Trails
These Kruger Park 4×4 trails have been mapped out to bring you into close contact with some of the Park’s most spectacular environments and its wildlife. Even though the routes are not challenging, a four by four vehicle with a low range capacity is needed.
No advance bookings can be made and the trail can be reserved the night before or on the morning you wish to travel it.
The routes have been designed to take guests to a variety of different wilderness areas in the Kruger National Park and were carefully chosen to bring out the uniqueness of the different landscapes and associated fauna and flora.
With a limit of six vehicles per trail per day, this is an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself with the wild and test your skills on the diverse terrain awaiting your exploration. Book your Kruger National Park Safari with us today.
The four Adventure Trails Madlabantu (Pretoriuskop – 42 km)
Translates to ‘Man-Eater’. Begins on the Pretoriuskop – Fayi Loop and winds southward towards, and then along, the Nsikazi River through Big 5 country. The northern part of the trail leads north from the Napi Road and loops past Mtshawu Dam before turning south to rejoin the Napi Road near Shabeni Koppie.
The route is also traversed by a guided hiking trail, so don’t be disturbed should you accidentally meet trailists en route.
Mananga (Satara – 46 km)
Translates to ‘Wilderness’. Begins 11 km from Satara, travelling a short distance north before turning east into knob thorn / marula savannah.
Here you can expect herds of zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, and of course their predators, including cheetah.
Nonokani (Phalaborwa Gate – 62 km)
Translates to ‘Drive Slowly’. From a little east of and close to Masorini picnic site, 14 km from Phalaborwa Gate, this route meanders southward through mopane / bushwillow woodlands to Reënvoël Dam, an ideal spot for breakfast if you make an early start.
The route then continues towards and along the Olifants River where lunch can be eaten at any of the two viewpoints of the river itself. White rhino middens indicate the presence of these enormous animals in the area.
Look out for the many pure-white rock outcrops in the rugged Olifants River Bushveld. The trail eventually ends once past Sable Dam.
Northern Plains (Shingwedzi/Punda Maria – 49 km)
Begins 12 km north of the Babalala picnic site and heads eastwards into mopane scrubveld, on sometimes slippery clays, before turning north through sandveld and into the baobab country of the Pafuri. The trail meets the main tar road at Baobab Hill. Roan antelope are likely to be seen on this route.
Participants are requested to take their GPS with.
Kruger Park game drives afford the visitor the opportunity to experience the activities of the Kruger Park’s creatures aboard open vehicles provided by the park – under the guidance of skilled and experienced rangers. Available day and night throughout the year.
Kruger Park Wilderness Trails offers the ultimate African experience. Groups of up to 8, traverse the wilderness under the guidance of experienced, armed rangers, who protect, but more importantly unwrap the wonders of the Kruger Park to the uninitiated. Accommodation is provided in exclusive trail base camps with rustic 2-bed huts. The Kruger Park Walking Safaris offers the same activity, but with more luxury.
Guided bush walks
Trained field guides and backup rifles take groups of up to 8 people out into the bush for 2 -3 hours on Kruger Park Guided walks. Track rhino, elephant and lion on foot and learn and observe fascinating facts about the African bush. Morning or afternoon walks are offered.
See the detailed Kruger Park Map (for sale at gates and shops) for the location of picnic sites. Toilets and barbecue facilities are provided at all sites, while some have a tuck shop where snacks, soft drinks and wood may be purchased.
Mountain Bike Trails
Full or half-day mountain bike trails available at Olifants Rest Camp. There is place for a maximum of 6 participants per trail. Two qualified and armed field guides will lead the trails. Olifants Camp will supply the mountain bikes. Backpacks, water bottles, bicycle helmets and snacks will also be provided. A full bush interpretation will be done on the trail (interesting nature signs and wild life sightings).
Presentations of the southern hemisphere skies and African star lore, followed by night sky viewing through a large telescope, are combined with sunset and night game drives from Olifants Rest Camp to a remote site on the river bank where the telescope is set up for the evening.
Bush Braai’s and Bush Breakfast
Enjoy the rustic ambience of dining in the bush, serenaded by insects, birds, wildlife and sound of the wind dancing and echoing across the plains.
How best to get to the Kruger National Park.
There are a few different ways of getting to the park, each of which has different cost implications. Kruger is easily combined with a trip to or from Cape Town and or other areas of our beautiful country.
Flying directly to your safari lodge is obviously the most expensive but also the most convenient. Daily flights operate between Johannesburg and some of the private lodges in the Greater Kruger area. The flight generally takes around 90 minutes and delivers you to the nearest airstrip of the lodge you are travelling to, from there a driver or ranger from your lodge will transport you by game drive vehicle directly to your lodge.
Fly to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA). There are daily flights from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Mozambique and Livingstone Airport on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls to KMIA. KMIA is located just outside of Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. From the airport you can be transferred to your chosen accommodation in the Greater Kruger Park either by road (2/3 hours each way) or by charter flight (approximately 25 minutes).
Fly to Skukuza Airport. The Kruger National Park is now reachable via direct air scheduled services operating between Skukuza Airport, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The airport is located in close proximity to Skukuza main camp and the adjoining Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. Skukuza Airport was opened originally in 1958, closed later and then reopened in mid 2014, making the Kruger National Park one of the most easily accessible and seamless travel options. The operational plan for the airport and its associated services has been carefully constructed so as to be sensitive to the environmental concerns associated with flight operations in wildlife surrounds.
Self-Drive. This is the least expensive but most time-consuming option. A very feasible option for those travelling on a budget. The Kruger is around six hours drive from Johannesburg. The road is tarred and generally well maintained with clean service stations where you can enjoy a nice lunch on route. Some lodges (as with Tydon African Safaris) with their own transfer vehicles can collect you directly from OR Tambo International Airport/ Johannesburg.
So much to see, so little time! Why not divide your stay between the Kruger and the Kruger surrounds and Panorama route? The Kruger surrounds has some of South Africa’s most spectacular scenery, including God’s Window, the Blyde River Canyon and Bourke’s Luck Potholes.
The Best Time to Visit the Kruger National Park
The good news is that there is no bad time of the year to plan a Kruger National Park safari. The park goes through various seasonal changes, each change bringing forth its own set of attractions. In summer, the sun and rain contend for control of the land, thunderstorms light up the afternoon sky, and baby animals are born. In Autumn, browns replace greens as the land becomes thirsty. In winter, wildlife encounters are enhanced by the sparse vegetation and a lack of water forces the animals to flock to the waterholes. And finally, Spring, usually being the height of the drought, when game viewing is at its best, and the first rains tiptoe forth.
November to December
The weather is hot and humid with continual rains or afternoon thundershowers, which usually clear before the game drives depart. Lots of baby animals are born during this time, large nurseries of impala lambs can be seen, which are absolutely gorgeous to watch but vulnerable to predators, which makes for exciting game viewing possibilities. Many migratory birds start to arrive in the area.
January to March
These months are the height of the rainy season, with the weather remaining humid. Early morning game drives with early returns to escape the blistering African sun, along with majestic thunderstorms creating the most spectacular backdrops for the quintessential safari landscape photo. Flowering plants and Marula trees fruiting create a beautiful landscape. Due to water being plentiful the animals are generally spread out over wider areas.
During the autumn period the vegetation changes from thick lush green bush to a slightly sparser browning bush. The daytime temperatures remain warm but cool down at night. Occasional thunderstorms can be experienced in the late afternoons. During this time most, animals are in their peak condition.
May to June
Winter creeps in as the rainfall drops off drastically. Cold temperatures are experienced at night and at dawn during the winter months. The vegetation becomes totally brown and trees lose their leaves, making it easier to spot those leopards resting in the top branches. Game viewing improves on the ground and in the trees due to the bush thinning out.
July to September
This period is extremely dry in the bush with cold night temperatures and it is therefore chilly in the early mornings and late afternoon game drives. Warm clothing is recommended such as gloves, scarves, beanies and insulated jackets. Layers are recommended rather than thick jackets as the day time temperatures are generally lovely and warm. The animals congregate around the waterholes. Game viewing is generally fantastic due to the improved visibility of the bush.
September to October
Spring is characterised by hot dry winds and the vegetation is colourless and sparse. The rivers and dams are at their all time lows allowing for high concentrations of game to be seen at these areas. Game viewing is generally good. The first rains are likely to start towards the end of October, making the bush burst into life.
Gate times for Kruger National Park
|05:30||18:30||Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb|
|06:00||18:00||Apr, Aug, Sept|
|06:00||17:30||May, Jun, Jul|
Place and Gate names of the Kruger National Park
Various places of historic, geological, ethnical and personal importance have led to the naming of the gates, rest camps, picnic sites, and rivers.
Crocodile Bridge situated on the northern bank of the Crocodile River aptly named after the river flowing past the entrance gate.
Malelane gate and ranger post on the northern bank of the Crocodile River comes from the Siswati name meaning ‘the place of the lala palms’ or from the Swazi tribe which meant ‘gurdians’.
Numbi gate named after the granite outcrop just outside the Park northwest of the gate. Its name is derived from the Siswati name iNumbi – the fruits of the um-numbela shrub.
Phabeni gate opened only in 2005 and situated in the southwestern part of the Kruger Park, is derived from the Sesotho word Phabeni meaning ‘a shelter’ or ‘a cave’.
Kruger Gate is the busiest, main entrance to the Park near Skukuza and situated at the bridge over the Sabie River, is named after the President of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal Republic), SJP Kruger. A granite bust of the old president is situated at this entrance gate.
Orpen gate serves the central region of the Park, and is the closest gate to Satara Rest Camp. It is named after Mr and Mrs JH Orpen, benefactors of the Kruger National Park. Eight farms were donated to the Kruger National Park by this couple and the gate openend in 1954.
Phalaborwa gate situated between the Lepelle and Letaba Rivers opened in 1960, bordering and named after the Phalaborwa town. The town and gate name is derived from the Sesotho meaning ‘better than the south’ because it was warmer here than the area where the BaPhalaborwa came from.
Punda Maria gate serving the northern section of the Park opened in 1976. Derived from Kishwahili and Afrikaans, its name is a combination of Punda from punda milia, ‘striped donkey’ in Swahili because of some of the animals first seen by ranger JJ Coetser and his wife’s name Maria.
Pafuri gate opened in 1978 and serves the far northern area of Kruger National Park. The name is derived as a corruption of the name Mphaphuli, the dynastic name of a previous Venda chief from the area.
Crocodile Bridge again named after the river flowing past the camp.
Lower Sabie situated on the southern bank of the Sabie River, is named from its position downstream from Skukuza, on the lower reaches of the Sabie River.
Berg-en-Dal situated on the bank of the Matjulu River, a tributary of the Crocodile, is named such because of the mountainous area in which it is situated and the many valleys which form part of the landscape. The name being derived from Afrikaans.
Skukuza being the largest and administrative headquarters of the Park, is derived from the corrupted Isizulu word sikhukhuza, ‘he who sweeps clean’ or ‘he who changes everything’. Skukuza was the nickname given to Colonel James Stevenson-Hamilton, first warden of Kruger Park.
Satara situated in the central area of the Park is derived from the misspelt Hindi word meaning satrah meaning fourteenth.
Olifants derived from Afrikaans and named after the Olifants (now Lepelle) River which flows past it.
Letaba a rest camp situated on the west bank of the Letaba River is derived from the Sesotho word lehlaba and the dialect form lethaba for ‘sand river’.
Mopani constructed in 1991, is situated on the banks of the Pionier Dam, and is named after the mopani tree, the most abundant tree and shrub species in this area.
Shingwedzi in the northern section of the Park, and situated on the bank of the river after which it was named opened in 1933 and has its name derived from the Xitsonga word ngwetse, ‘the sound of two metal objects grating against each other’.
Punda Maria also called Phande Mariha by the older generation of Venda people, meaning ‘boundary of the winters’ as they noticed that the area from here towards the west was greener during the winter and the climate more moderate than the plains. They claim that Punda Maria is a corruption of Phande Mariha.
Afsaal the name derived from Afrikaans meaning ‘a place to rest’.
Mlondozi a Siswati name meaning ‘a strong-flowing river’ or the second explanation with the name being found as the ‘place of the Balondolozi’ a tribe living on the banks of the Mlondozi River.
Nkhulu on the banks of the Sabie River, its Xitsonga name meaning ’Natal mahogany’. Several of these beautiful tees are found along the river banks in this area.
Tshokwane is named (origin in Sesotho) after an old Shangaan chief who lived in there until his death in 1915.
Orpen named after Mr and Mrs JH Orpen.
Nhlanguleni derived from the Xitsonga meaning ‘at the guarri bush’ and named after the spruit along which it is situated.
Muzandzeni on the northern bank of the Sweni River has its named derived from Xitsonga ‘at the tsessebe’, named by the ranger JJ Kloppers when he found a small herd of tsessebe in the area.
N’wanetsi a picnic spot on the eastern border and situated on the bank of the Sweni River, has its Xitsonga derived name from n’wetsi-n’wetsi ‘to flicker or shine’ and means the river with shiny or crystal-clear water’.
Timbavati named after the Timbavati River, and its Xitsonga name from ku bava meaning ‘bitter or brackish water’.
Makhadzi Tshivenda meaning ‘Father or chief’s sister’.
Mooiplaas derived from Afrikaans meaning ‘beautiful place’.
Babalala named after an earlier inhabitant, but also means ‘sleep, my father’ in Siswati
Pafuri a corruption of Mphaphuli, the dynastic name of a Venda chief.
Sabie Beautiful perennial river that flows past Skukuza and Lower Sabie rest camps, and a tributary of the Komati River, has its name derived from Siswati sabisa ‘to be careful’
Crocodile this river forms the largest part of the southern border of the Kruger national Park. Derived from the translation of the original Sesotho, Siswati, Xitsonga and Afrikaans names all meaning ‘river of crocodiles’.
Nwaswitsontso a seasonal, mostly dry river; from Xitsonga ntonto meaning ‘intermittent drip’ because it is a seasonal river and is mostly dry.
Timbavati a seasonal river, mostly dry, derived from Xitsonga ku bava meaning ‘bitter or brackish water’
Lepelle (Olifants) the largest, mostly perennial river, is derived from Afrikaans meaning ‘river of elephants’.
Letaba Main tributary of the Lepelle, the meaning of Sesotho lehlaba or lethaba origin meaning ‘sand river’.
Tsendze seasonal river, mostly dry and the largest tributary of the Letaba River, with its original Xitsonga tsendzeleka meaning ‘to wander around like someone in the bush’, probably referring to the winding course of the river.
Shingwedzi seasonal river, mostly dry flowing into Mozambique, derived from the Xitsonga word ngwetse meaning ‘the sound of two metal objects rubbing together’
Luvuvhu seasonal river and tributary of the Limpopo River, has its name derived from Tshivenda from muvuvhu the river bushwillow tree.
Limpopo Large River predominantly perennial forming the northern boundary of the Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe. Its name believed to be the corruption of the Sesotho name Lebepe, of which the meaning is not known. The Venda call the river Vhembe and the Tsonga call it Minti, both meaning ‘many channels’.
Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.
The most often mentioned, persistently searched for and much loved African Big Five are the lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. The term Big Five originally came from big game hunters who found these particular animals the most difficult and dangerous African animals to hunt on foot. Given that these formidable creatures are constantly in the spotlight, here are some interesting facts about each of Africa’s Big Five stars.
Lions are the second largest big cats in the world and are Africa’s top predator.
Lions are the only cats that live in groups called prides and need constant interaction with each other. They are the most social cats on earth. Female lions remain in the same pride for life, forming strong bonds with each other. They raise their cubs together, with cubs suckling from any of the lactating females in the pride.
Lions greet each other by rubbing their heads together, this allows them to exchange scents that convey important information about their recent activities, intentions and moods.
A lion’s roar can be heard up to 8km (5miles) away which allows them to communicate with each other over large distances. Male lions roar louder and more often, usually to declare territory, call stray members of the pride and to ward off any rivals. Females call their cubs with quiet roars and also will roar for backup when under attack.
Lions can see in the dark yet are not completely nocturnal, most of their hunting is done just before sunrise or just after sunset. They are opportunistic feeders that will hunt at any time if the opportunity presents itself. The females do the hunting, yet the males get the first helping.
Lions sleep up to 20 hours a day. There are between 1620-1750 lion in the park.
The leopard is the strongest climber of all the big cats in Africa. Leopards are stealthy nocturnal predators with excellent night vision.
Leopards are anti-social loners who avoid interacting with each other beyond mating.
Leopards spend are large portion of their time in trees. They can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up a tree 6 meters tall. They can even hunt from trees and enjoy napping in the safety of a tree.
They prey on a wide variety of species, from insects, rodents and reptiles to birds and mammals including giraffe. They are comfortable in water and are in fact strong swimmers enabling them to even eat fish and crabs.
Leopards communicate through a series of barks and snarls, they do not roar. When happy they even purr. The last count estimates about 1 000 leopard in Kruger national Park.
Due to their adaptability leopards have been able to survive across a range of habitats which has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world, including India, China, Central Asia and of course Africa.
The elephant is the largest land animal. Bulls can attain a shoulder height of about 3.4m and females 2.7m. Bulls can reach a weight of up to 6 550kg and females around 3 500kg.
Elephants are well known for their intelligence and good memory, and a recent count established that there are about 20 000 elephant in the park.
They have sensitive pads under their feet, which allows them to walk very quietly despite their enormous size. These underfoot pads act as shock absorbers.
Elephants can get sunburnt! To minimize this, they throw sand on their backs and heads; this also acts as a natural insect repellent. Although their skins are tough, they can feel a tiny insect walking on their skin.
Elephants have a gestation period of 22 months, giving birth to calves weighing 120kg. When an elephant cow is giving birth the rest of the herd form a protective circle around her as her calf is born. Baby elephants are born almost blind and some even suck their trunks for comfort.
Elephants can use their trunks as makeshift snorkels and are able to swim for long distances. Their trunks are used for grabbing, bathing, smelling, drinking and can even pick up something as small as a grain of rice.
Elephants play a pioneering role in transforming tall grasslands into young regenerating grass shoots that are eagerly sought after by buffaloes and zebras.
They are highly social animals. The social unit consists of a cow with her calves. Female offspring remain with their mother in family groups. These family units are therefore composed of the old female known as the matriarch and all her daughters and their offspring. Males are allowed to stay with the herd until bout the age of 14 years, after which they leave the herd to live in loosely bonded bachelor groups.
Elephants mourn the loss of a herd member in a ritualized way similar to that of us humans. They will ‘bury’ the deceased, show signs of mourning and even stay at the grave for a few days.
Rhinos have three hoofed toes per foot. They run on their toes and are much faster than they look. They are most closely related to the horse and zebra.
Rhinos are nocturnal, feeding in the night and resting during the day.
A rhino’s horn is made up of the same protein that makes up our hair and nails, it is called keratin. There horns are basically just a compact mass of hair. The horn is not attached to the skull so if broken off it will grow back.
Their gestation period is 16 months. A mother rhino will nurture her calf for three years.
A black rhino has a hooked lip specially designed to eat leaves and twigs off trees. A white rhino has a broad flat mouth ideal for grazing. Neither the black or white rhino have front teeth, they rely on their lips for eating.
Due to the risk of poaching of rhino, their numbers are not made public.
Buffalo are a species of wild cattle and are sometimes confused with American bison. Buffalo have never been domesticated due to their unpredictable and often aggressive natures.
They have earned the nicknames of ‘Black Death’ and ‘Widow Maker’ due to the fact that they are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They still kill over 200 people a year. Buffalo have excellent memory and will ambush a hunter who they have encountered before.
Buffalo drink around 40 liters of water a day so never venture too far from a watering hole. Lions will often lie in wait for them near the water. It usually takes several lions to bring down a single buffalo.
Buffalo have strong bonds with each other and if one of them is attacked the entire herd will come to it’s defense, often killing lions and other predators.
Buffalo can be seen licking termite mounds and the mud, stuck to their coats from wallowing in mud pools, off each other in order to get any nutrients that are lacking in their diet.
Buffalo numbers are relatively high at around 37 000.
Boasting about the magnificent Big Five, Kruger National Park can’t ignore the addition of cheetah, wild dog and hyena as great attractions to this wildlife reserve.
With an estimated modest 200 cheetah in the park, and although the population is in no immediate danger, the park’s ranger remain vigilant and monitor conditions for this fleet-footed predator very closely.
Cheetah have many enemies, and although there tens of thousands of herbivores in the Kruger Park, there is a correspondingly large number of predators living off them, and the competition between predators has created fine line when it comes to their survival. Cheetahs avoid conflict with other stronger predators at all costs, as they cannot afford the slightest injury that might interfere with hunting. What makes cheetah unique and adds to their high speed skills, is the specialized claw that acts like the spikes on a sprinter’s track shoes, giving the cheetah constant traction and the sharpest turning radius of all of the big African cats.
African wild dogs demonstrate pack–orientated social structures like wolves; a distant cousin of the wolf and domestic dog, the wild dog split form the ancestor of other canids two to three million years ago and today is the sole member of a unique lineage. It very much resembles true dogs, but differs taxonomically in having only four toes to each forefoot, lacking the vestigial dewclaw, or fifth toe found in most canines. Formerly widespread in South Africa, wild dogs had been exterminated everywhere in the country except for the Kruger Park and adjacent districts by 1920. There are currently less than 200 wild dog in the Kruger National Park and there is always the worry of their extinction. They became a protected species in the mid-1980’s, and yet disturbingly their numbers continue to decline. It is illegal to hunt and kill African wild dog in South Africa unless with permission granted by conservation authorities for a very specific reason.
Another well worth mentioning species that raises much curiosity amongst tourists to visit Kruger National Park, is the hyena. Spotted hyena sport numbers of around 5 350 in the park and being one of the Kruger’s five largest carnivores, hyenas have the wildest diet. The diversity of their menu includes spiders and insects, barbell, frogs, snakes, tortoises, owl eggs, doves, mice aardvarks, pangolins and porcupines. Prey abundance, species size, causes of mortality, food availability and social relationships among hyena clan members, are all factors that influence diet. Although hyenas are hunters, they are also opportunists, and will turn up their nose at an easy meal. Where prey is plentiful and other predators, like lions that outnumber hyenas, they may live primarily as scavengers. So though hyenas are the Kruger’s most abundant large predator and because they scavenge around half of what they eat, their impact on prey population is significantly lower than that of lions, except in the case of impalas. Kruger hyenas rarely kill adult wildebeest or zebra weighing three to four times their own adult weight of 45 to 70 kilograms, instead restricting their prey to smaller than 150 kilograms. Unlike wild dogs, in hyena society, it is every animal for itself.
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