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Media Release: Kruger National Park Turns 109!

Date: 1st June 2007

The Executive Director of the Kruger National Park (KNP), Dr Bandile Mkhize officially welcomed everyone to the 109th Birthday Celebration, which took place at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp today (Thursday May 31, 2007).

The Executive Director of the Kruger National Park (KNP), Dr Bandile Mkhize officially welcomed everyone to the 109th Birthday Celebration, which took place at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp today (Thursday May 31, 2007).

“As we celebrate the 109th birthday of this special place, we must all resolve to ensure that we preserve this heritage for many generations to come. The challenge for us is to maintain the balance between conservation and tourism and to ensure that this great park impacts positively on the lives of the people who live just outside it,” Dr Mkhize said during his welcome speech.

The occasion also marked the official launch of what will probably become the definitive history of South Africa’s biggest National Park, “Kruger National Park: A History” which was compiled by former KNP executive director, Dr Salomon Joubert.

This book, in three volumes, is considered to be the most complete published work on the history of the KNP that covers the period from the earliest recorded settlements in the area until 1994.

Present Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks) and previous KNP executive director, Dr David Mabunda, who will be writing the fourth volume of “Kruger National Park: A History” which will cover the period between 1994 and the present day, gave a brief summary of the KNP’s history.

“Stevenson-Hamilton talked of witnessing the Kruger Park as a Cinderella turning into a princess. I think we can now safely say that this ‘princess’ has turned into the majestic ‘queen’ of national parks with few rivals worldwide,” said Dr Mabunda.

The 14 winners of the KNP Birthday Competition were also announced during the ceremony, and assisted the SANParks Chief Executive Dr Mabunda during the cake-cutting ceremony. The winners, who came from all over South Africa, had to share their birthday with the KNP (May 31) and answered three easy questions relating to the history of the park.

Their names are: Ernest Hlathi, Clarissa Coetzee, Annelise van der Walt, Thinus Botha, Wynand Geel, Christopher Hedger, Trevor James, Stephen Mbedzi, Antonette du Preez, Lana Claasens, Maryna van Wyk, Otto van der Star, Suzan Mokoena and Johan Bekker. The 15th winner unfortunately withdrew for personal reasons.

Research has shown that President Paul Kruger’s Volksraad (parliament) established the Sabie Game Reserve during 1898. The National Parks Act – the previous act of parliament that governed national parks in South Africa – was ratified before parliament on May 31, 1926 and thus it has decided that May 31 is the KNP’s birthday. The KNP is the largest and oldest park administered by South African National Parks (SANParks).

Captions:
Prize winners.jpg
The Prize Winners of the KNP Birthday Competition assist SANParks Chief Executive Dr David Mabunda with the cutting of a giant KNP Birthday Cake.
Note to editors: Hires and alternative photographs available on request.
Issued by:
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: raymondt@sanparks.org