I will be in the Kruger National Park for the months of August and September. I’ll be compiling a travel guide from my trip, interviewing many of the rangers and guides, and of course, taking lots of photos.
Kruger is huge: 2 million hectares or 20 000 square kilometres, so it’s larger than some small countries. Is it Africa’s finest protected area? More than any other national park on the continent, it has probably contributed most to the conservation of Africa’s wild animals.
That’s a big statement, and I’m sure that many parks in East Africa would have plenty to say to me! I obviously haven’t been to all the national parks in Africa but from what I’ve read, I’m not sure that any other individual park has done a better job to restore wildlife populations, and protect natural habitat on such a large scale. Kruger has its foundations in Sabi Game Reserve, founded in 1898, and was formally declared a national park in 1926. So for more than a hundred years, Kruger has played a vital role in conservation on the continent. Despite the rhino poaching, the park is still extremely well managed by its staff, most of whom take pride in their work.
Within the context of all the industrial and agricultural development in Africa, Kruger (and other national parks) could be seen by some as an archaic concept, a romantic notion that will eventually buckle under the weight of mankind’s incessant lust for capitalistic growth. I think that one day, when people look back in a hundred years time, they’ll consider today’s conservationists of Africa as the most important heroes of the century. I think this for many reasons but for now it’s just a gut feel that I have.
Anyway, Kruger is special, even if poachers are smashing the rhino presently. Being here is a privilege, especially when I know that many people have to sit in traffic tomorrow morning while I’m out looking for leopards to photograph. I’m in awe of this wild place. It’s only a few hours drive from one of Africa’s biggest cities, Johannesburg, and it represents the ultimate holiday for many people in South Africa and around the world. I feel like I belong here, that life makes sense here. Ag, okay, now I’m getting all sentimental again …. enough of that.
I’m starting my journey in the south and will make my way slowly north, to finish at the end of September in Pafuri region, on the border of Zimbabwe.
Here are a few photos from my first week.
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Photojournalist Scott Ramsay focuses on exploring the national parks, nature reserves and community conservancies in Southern Africa, taking photographs and interviewing the experts who work in these protected areas. Through his work, he hopes to inspire others to travel to the continent's wild places, which Scott believes are Africa's greatest long term assets. For more, go to www.LoveWildAfrica.com or www.facebook.com/LoveWildAfrica. Partners include Ford Ranger, Goodyear, Cape Union Mart, K-Way, EeziAwn, Frontrunner, Hetzner and Globecomm.