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Activities available include:
Discover…Experience…Explore a world of diversity in one Park…
Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide range of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora. Stretching from the semi-arid karoo area in the north around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River Valley and south to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s river mouth, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups.
The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area. Today this finely-tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 600 elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species, as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. The park can exclusively claim to be the only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” – the Big 5 as well as the southern right whale and great white shark off the Algoa Bay coast.Plans are currently afoot to include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) Marine Protected Area which includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.
Addo Elephant National Park seeks to be fully integrated into the regional landscape. It conserves and enhances the characteristic terrestrial and marine biodiversity, ecological processes and cultural, historical and scenic resources representative of the Eastern Cape for the appreciation and benefit of present and future generations.
Five main attractions/things to experience:
- Lion (found mostly in the southern section of the park)
- Herds of elephant at Hapoor dam
- The Interpretive Centre at main camp
- The picturesque Zuurberg Mountain
- The rolling sand dunes of the Woody Cape section
- For bookings at Addo Elephant National Park contact Central Reservations. For bookings at Kabouga and Woody Cape, contact Park Reception (Tel: 042 233 8600).
- Have a look at the park map, as well as information on each camp to locate and check in at the correct place.
- All accommodation is serviced and equipped with crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils, bedding, towels and soap. Each accommodation unit has a braai area outside.
- Check in time for accommodation is 14:00 on the day of arrival. Check out time on the day of departure is 10:00 for accommodation and 12:00 for the caravan and tent sites.
- Please note that no meals are included in the accommodation rates.
- All our accommodation units have plug points available with a 220V electricity supply. Visitors need to provide their own international adaptors or two-point plug adaptors. The caravan and tent sites also each have a 220v electricity supply point.
- Accommodation is serviced daily between 09:00 and 12:00.
- Sheets will be changed every two to three days and towels will be changed every day. Please do not hesitate to ask our staff for extra soap, towels, blankets, etc.
Addo Elephant National Park offers a range of accommodation types. The list below offers a brief description of what the park offers. For more comprehensive information on accommodation types, including photographs of the facilities and more detail on how the units are equipped, please click on the accommodation unit link.
The popular main rest camp of the park offers a wide variety of accommodation units to suit all tastes and plenty of activities to keep visitors busy. A unique feature is the waterhole lookout point situated inside the camp and which is floodlit at night, as well as the underground hide, allowing close encounters with wildlife at the waterhole.
Spend a night in the middle of the bush, listening to the sounds of the wild around you. You may catch a glimpse of nocturnal animals drinking at the nearby waterhole, gaze at the starry skies and enjoy simply being away from it all. The tents are located in the fenced area of the Spekboom Hide inside the park's game viewing area.
'Matyholweni', which means "in the bush" in Xhosa is located near the coastal village of Colchester at the Sundays River Mouth. Only 3km off the N2 highway, Matyholweni is easily accessible and provides a second gateway into the Park. Amenities such as banks, shops, restaurants and a fuel station are available in the nearby village.
For a secluded experience in a magical forest, spend some time at Narina Bush Camp at the foot of the Zuurberg Mountains and on the banks of the Wit River. The road to Narina is a gravel road of approximately 25 kilometres and even though it is not necessary to have a 4x4 to access it, a high ground clearance vehicle is needed to travel this road.
This section of the park is surrounded by rugged moutains and densely fragrant vegetation.
Situated within the magnificent Alexandria Forest, the two Langebos Huts are popular with birders, those who enjoy escaping to a private destination under a canopy of trees and others who just wish to "get away from it all". Prospective visitors with a special interest in botany, trees, ferns and mushrooms will also delight in using this accommodation as their base from where to explore the forest and the coast. They are booked "simultaneously", meaning visitors have the entire camp to themselves - even if they don't book the second hut.
The Woody Cape Guesthouse is available to hikers on the two-day Alexandria Hiking Trail.
Who said anything about "roughing it" in the bush when visiting one of our national parks? "Indulgence" and "comfort" come to mind when viewing the concession lodges and suites that are to be found in a number of SANParks camps and parks. These lodges form part of a suite of products known as SANParks "Golden Kudus", where luxury is the order of the day.
To view the accommodation prices, refer to Tariffs
Activities available at no extra cost (except for entrance fee)
- Self-drive wildlife viewing in the main game area and Colchester area on 120 km of tourist roads suitable fro normal sedan cars.
- Zuurberg hiking trails: 1-hour and 3-hour trails available in the Zuurberg Mountains.
- PPC Discovery Trail: a short walk in the main camp, one loop suitable for wheelchairusers and visually-impaired visitors.
- SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide: in the main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Floodlit waterhole: at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Underground viewing hide at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Picnic and braai site: at main camp and in the botanical reserve Jack's Picnic site off the southern access road.
- Swimming pool: at main camp, only for overnight guests.
- Restaurant and curio shop: at main camp. Restaurant Tel: 042 2338674.
- Holiday programmes for children: during July and December holidays
The following facilities are available at the respective camps:
- A lookout platform and an underground hide provide views over a waterhole which is floodlit at night.
- A swimming pool, situated near the chalets, is available for overnight visitors.
- Picnic and braai areas are available for day visitors, overlooking the waterhole in the rest camp.
- A picnic site, 'Jack's picnic site',situated within the botanical reserve in the main game area provides picnic, braai and ablution facilities.
- The SASOL Red Bishop Bird Hide overlooks a small wetland area.
- A shop selling curios, snacks and basic supplies is open between 08:00 and 18:00 (winter) or 08:00 to 19:00 (summer).
- An al-la-carte restaurant is open for all meals from 07:30 to 22:00. Bookings are advisable, especially for dinner. Telephone: +27 (0) 42 233 8674 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- A fuel station selling petrol and diesel is available between 07:30 and 16:30.
- There is a public telephone and a post box near reception. Post is collected for delivery every week day morning before 07:00. A post office is situated in the town of Addo, approximately 15km from the park.
- Credit cards are accepted for payment of accommodation and activities (except for the Alexandria Hiking trail, Zuurberg horse trails, Kabouga accommodation and the 4x4 trail), shop purchases, petrol and/or diesel and restaurant meals.
- A First National Bank with an ATM is situated in the town of Addo, 15km from the park. Other banking facilities are located in the town of Kirkwood, 35km from the park and Port Elizabeth, 75km from the park.
- Communal kitchen.
- Communal bathrooms.
- Each tent site has its own braai stand.
- Each unit has its own braai stand.
- Public toilets.
Camp Matyholweni does not have restaurant, shop or swimming pool facilities. Shops, banks, restaurants and fuel station facilities are available in the nearby seaside village of Colchester.
- Each unit has its own braai stand.
- Communal kitchen.
- Communal bathroom.
- An old reservoir serves as a swimming pool for those hot days in the valley.
- There is an outside braai site and visitors must provide their own wood.
- One hot water shower (paraffin-powered) and one flush toilet available.
- There are braai sites and visitors must provide their own firewood.
- Each unit has its own braai stand.
Natural & Cultural History
In the early centuries, when great herds of wild animals roamed the Addo region, the Khoesan of the Iqua, Damasqua and Gonaqua clans lived in the area.
They hunted and kept cattle but tragically were largely wiped out in the 1700s by the smallpox epidemic. Nomadic Xhosa tribes had kraals in the area, including Chief Cungwa of the Gqunukhwebe (near the Sundays River mouth and inland) and Chief Habana of the Dange (near the Wit River).
The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) was proclaimed in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 Addo elephant. The great herds of elephant and other animal species had been all but decimated by hunters over the 1700s and 1800s. In the late 1800s, farmers began to colonise the area around the park, also taking their toll on the elephant population due to competition for water and crops.
This conflict reached a head in 1919 when farmers called on the government to exterminate the elephants. The government even appointed a Major Pretorius to shoot the remaining elephants - who killed 114 elephant between 1919 and 1920.
Public opinion then changed, leading to the proclamation of the park in 1931. The original size of the park was just over 2 000 hectares. Conflicts between elephants and farmers continued after proclamation as no adequate fence enclosed the park. Finally in 1954, Graham Armstrong (the park manager at the time) developed an elephant-proof fence constructed using tram rails and lift cables and an area of 2 270 hectares was fenced in. There were 22 elephant in the park at the time. This Armstrong fence, named after its developer, is still used around the park today. Although the park was originally proclaimed to protect a single species, priorities have now changed to conserve the rich biological diversity found in the area.
The Alexandria dunefield is home to many archeological sites - the middens of the nomadic 'Strandloper' or 'beach walker' people. These middens contain shells and bones of animals eaten by the people as well as fragments of pottery and stone implements. Interestingly, the white mussel shells found in these middens are also found in the caves of the Zuurberg Mountains, proving that these people journeyed and stored their food over vast distances.
The caves in the Zuurberg Mountains also contain rock art and stone implements.
The natural and cultural heritage of the park has been studied by the Albany Museum, recording hundreds of sites of significance.
The Domkrag Dam in the game viewing area of the park is named after a giant mountain tortoise which once roamed the park. 'Domkrag' is the Afrikaans word for a 'jack', and this tortoise had a peculiar habit of walking underneath cars and lifting them up with enormous strength. Domkrag came to a sad end when he fell into an aardvark hole and couldn't get himself out. His shell is still on display in the Interpretive Centre.
The magnificent elephant head which is mounted in the Interpretive Centre is that of Hapoor, the legendary dominant bull in the park for 24 years. The waterhole in the south western section of the game viewing area is named after him. 'Hap' means 'nick' in Afrikaans, while 'oor' means 'ear' and it is believed the distinctive nick in his ear was caused by a hunter's bullet. Hapoor retained a deep hatred of humans throughout his life. On more than one occasion park staff were forced to flee to safety when Hapoor made his appearance. His dominance stretched from 1944 to 1968. During the latter part of the 1960's a few younger bulls reached maturity and challenged Hapoor. These upstarts were unsuccessful until one bull named Lanky finally deposed Hapoor in 1968. Hapoor was driven from the heard and became a loner. Later that year he succeeded in climbing the park's 'Armstrong Fence', which for nearly 20 years had been elephant-proof. His freedom was to be short lived as due to his aggressive nature, it was determined he would have to be shot.
How to get there
The following gates have approximate opening and closing times:
Main entrance gate & Addo reception (off R335 / R342 near Addo)
07:00 - 19:00
Matyholweni gate & Matyholweni reception (off N2 near Colchester)
07:00 - 17:00 (Reception)
- Gates to the game areas open and close according to season. Please enquire about the current times when checking in at Addo or Matyholweni reception. Entrance to the main entrance gate and Matyholweni gate does not provide access to the game areas, but only to the park camps.
- Entrance gates are staffed by security guards after closing time. Visitors with accommodation bookings can still enter and exit the gates after closing times but before 22:00 provided they inform reception of this. After 22:00, there is no access into the park as gates are closed.
- GPS coordinates ranging from camp sites, entrance gates to turn-off points.
- GPS points map:
Directions to Addo Elephant National Park:
- Directions from Port Elizabeth (PE) to Addo Main Camp
- Directions from East London
- Directions from Grahamstown
- Directions from Cape Town
- Directions from Johannesburg
Note: all distances are approximate.
- Port Elizabeth to Addo Main Camp: 72km
- Main Camp to Paterson: 22km
- Main Camp to Kabouga: 45km
- Main Camp to Narina: 27km
- Main Camp to Woody Cape office: 105km
- Main Camp to Matyholweni: 39km
- Main Camp to Zuurberg office: 17km
- The nearest domestic airport is in Port Elizabeth, 75km from the park. A number of car hire agencies have offices at the airport.
- International airports are situated at Johannesburg and Cape Town, with connecting flights to Port Elizabeth available.
The entrance road and some of the tourist loops in the park are tarred. Other tourist roads within the park are of a good gravel standard. All tourist roads are accessible to normal cars. A 4x4 vehicle is only necessary if visitors would like to do the Bedrogfontein 4x4 route within the park, while high ground clearance vehicles are needed should guests overnight at Narina Bush Camp.
- Buses may access most of the tourist roads within the park except for the southern access road from Matyholweni to where it joins the road network near Hapoor waterhole and the second part of the Gorah Loop. Turnaround points for buses are provided at these places.
- The speed limit on the roads is 40 km/h but a speed of 20-30 km/h is advised for maximum game viewing enjoyment.
- There is a height restriction for vehicles on the entrance road to Addo Main Camp of 4.42 metres.
Gate Registration & Indemnity Form
Find us on Google Maps
Full Addo Map
4x4 Trail Map
Addo Main Game Area & Colchester Road Map
- General Tariffs Information
- 2015/2016 Tariffs
- Pensioners' Discount
- Members of SANParks’ loyalty programme WILD do not pay conservation fees provided that proof of Identity and their WILD card are shown on arrival.
- Cost of a Wild Card
- View accommodation pictures and availability for Addo Elephant National Park
- Activity tariffs
Kabouga Mvubu Camping
max 4 persons per site
sleeps 6 people
Cattle Baron Grill & Bistro
Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park which is where you'll find the taste-bud tantalising franchised Cattle Baron Restaurant.
It really doesn't matter what time of the day you visit us, as we have a wide variety of meals to suit any occasion from light meals and salads for the nibblers to larger fish, poultry, meat and venison options for those with a bigger appetite. Renowned for their mouth-watering steaks, the secret of their success lies in the preparation of their meat.
The inside dining area is more formal - with a welcoming bar and warm, dark wood furniture. The large covered deck outside is fitted with picnic-style tables and benches, and creates a more relaxed atmosphere.
- View the menu of the Cattle Baron Grill & Bistro in Addo Elephant National Park.
- Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – late (Kitchen closes at 20:30)
- Tel: (042) 233 8674
- Fax: (042) 233 8675
- E-mail: email@example.com
Although the park was originally proclaimed to protect the one species - the elephant - conservation priorities changes over the years.
In the 1980s, the conservation of five elements took priority: the elephant, the black rhino, the buffalo, the flightless dung beetle and the thicket vegetation. These days a more wholistic approach of conserving biodiversity is the aim. "The mission of the Addo Elephant National Park is to conserve the faunal and floral assemblages and ecological processes that characterise the unique Eastern Cape region, and to actively present this for the appreciation by visitors.
The Conservation Services Office in Port Elizabeth has two divisions:
- The Park Planning Division, is staffed with a Head of Park Planning responsible for land consolidation and development of parks nationally, a Coordinator for Park Planning and Development of the Greater Addo project and Garden Route Initiative, a Marine Coordinator for the Greaetr Addo MPA, an Administration & Finance officer Finances and the Project Management Unit responsible for implementation of Greater Addo World Bank project.
- Scientific Services is part of the Arid Ecosystems Research Unit (AERU) and is staffed by an Animal Ecologist responsible for the large mammal monitoring and research, a Rehabilitation Ecologist who is assessing habitat threats and rehabilitation requirements and a Landscape Ecologist who interested in spatial processes linking biological and physical aspects across landscapes. AERU as a unit is reponsible for providing the scientific input into park managment through research, monitoring and planning processes. The unit focuses their attention on the following parks; Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra, Karoo, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, Augrabies Falls, Kgalagadi, Vaalbos, Golden Gate and shares responsibility with the Scientific Services teams of Rondevlei and Skukuza for the inputs into Tankwa Karoo, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Agulhas, Marakele and Mapungubwe. AERU has assigned principle scientists to each park responsible for coordinating the ongoing research and monitoring activities both from within SANParks as well as from outside institutions.
Please see here to find out how Scientific Services is staffed.
Research & Monitoring
The Addo elephants are probably the world's most comprehensively recorded elephant population. Elephant research began in earnest in 1976 when Dr. Anthony Hall-Martin researched the Addo elephant population. In this study he built up a complete photographic identification file for the population (a total of 96 elephants in May 1978), documented the sex, estimated age, and developmental status of all individuals, and kept records of births and deaths within the population. Additionally, notes were kept on observed association patterns and social behaviour.
Further intensive research began in 1996 when Anna Whitehouse identified, named and compiled photographic identification files of all elephants. When Anna completed her work in 2001 she had identified 325 individuals. This identification work continues as a component of other projects currently being undertaken on the elephant by the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit (TERU) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Association patterns were observed to determine which elephants belonged to which family group and which calves belonged to which cows. Maternal family trees dating back to the creation of the park in 1931 were reconstructed using photographs and written records. Other factors investigated included ranging behaviour, impact on vegetation and population genetics and paternity. Students from the TERU are currently continuing with elephant research in the park in the Nyati concession area and main camp looking at size sex, and population specific foraging behaviour as well as social organisation within the family groups.
Research funded by the National Science Foundation in the USA determines how elephant use chemical signals to communicate. A number of projects have already been completed at Masters level. Research includes topics such as determining if adult male African elephants discern between receptive and non-receptive urine from cycling female African elephants, which would suggest the presence of a pheromone that signals sexual readiness.
Researchers from the University of Oldenburg in Germany have studied the breeding colony of the Southern Red Bishop bird since 1993 in terms the environmental factors that influence the breeding success of the population, as well as factors influencing reproductive success of individuals. Reproductive behaviour and sexual selection of breeding males are key focal areas in this research. Territories, pair bonds, number of eggs per nest and number of fledglings are recorded. This research has mostly been conducted at the wetland area near reception.
Black rhino research has included research funded by the San Diego Zoological Society to determine how black rhino use chemical signals to communicate, specifically by means of olfactory reception will hopefully shed light on how this species adapts to new environments after translocation into areas with or without resident rhino. Another TERU project focuses on the different browse strata used by black rhino; the effect that elephants have on rhino habitats and the competition between elephant and black rhino in terms of feeding. The implications of such interspecific interactions are likely to affect how the species are managed in future.
SANParks own rehabilitation ecologist, Ayanda Sigwela was recently awarded his Ph.D. in Zoology and conducted research in Addo that investigated the ecosystem services associated with transformed and untransformed thicket using forage value and seed dynamics as indicators of such services. Ayanda currently works within the Arid Ecosystems Research Unit based in Port Elizabeth.
Following the inclusion of the Alexandria dune field and Bird and St. Croix island groups into the park there are also a number of projects that monitor the populations of seabirds and marine fish and mammals in Algoa Bay.
Most recently, new research projects have begun on the newly introduced large predators (lion and spotted hyena) in the park. A post-doctoral researcher affiliated to the TERU is looking at their behaviour, diet, social interactions and habitat use while AERU researchers are investigating the prey response in terms of behaviour and habitat use to the release of the predators.
Monitoring of the ecological parameters within national parks is an integral part of park management. Monitoring effort is usually focused on the vegetation communities and large mammal components as it is felt that these will act as surrogates for many species, habitats and processes that cannot be monitored as easily.
Annual total count aerial helicopter surveys of all large mammal species has been carried out in the AENP since 1978. Additional surveys are also undertaken to monitor the performance of threatened species such as the black rhino. These surveys were largely restricted to the original elephant camp that has grown slowly over the years but recently these surveys have been expanded to include the Greater Addo sections such as Darlington Dam, Zuurberg and Nyati.
Additional monitoring activities include assessing the population status of African black oystercatchers along the stretch of sandy beach between the Sundays River mouth and Wood Cape, as well as vegetation monitoring programmes that have been initiated to look at the long terms structural chances using aerial photography.
- Lombard, A.T., Johnson, C.F., Cowling, R.M. & Pressey, R.L. 2001. Protecting plants from elephants: botanical reserve scenarios within the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 102: 191-203.
- Knight, M.H., Kshatriya, M., Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Nicholls, A.O. & Hall-Martin, A.J. 2001. Evaluating herbivore extinction probabilities in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology 36(1): 13-22.
- Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G., McLachlan, A. & Winter, P.E.D. 1998. Recomendations for the conservation and management of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the Algoa Bay region, South Africa. Koedoe 41(2): 121-129.
- Landman, M. & Kerley, G.I.H. 2001. Dietary shifts: do grazers become browsers in the Thicket Biome? Koedoe 44(1): 31-36.
- Woodd, A.M. 1999. A demographic model to predict future growth of the Addo elephant population. Koedoe 42(1): 79-100.
- Paley, R.G.T. & Kerley, G.I.H. 1998. The winter diet of elephant in Eastern Cape Subtropical Thicket, Addo Elephant National Park. Koedoe 41(1): 37-46.
- Castley, J.G., Bruton, J-S., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. The importance of seed dispersal in the Alexandria Coastal Dunefield, South Africa. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 57-70.
- Castley, J.G., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. Biotic processes in a coastal dunefield: an assessment of seed removal, with non-native seed removal experiments. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 49-56.
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.C. 2001. Post-bottleneck genetic diversity of elephant populations in South Africa, revealed using microsatellite analysis. Molecular Ecology 10: 2139-2149.
- Whitehouse, A.M., Hall-Martin, A.J. & Knight, M.H. 2001. A comparison of methods used to count the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park. African Journal of Ecology 39: 140-145.
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Hall-Martin, A.J. (2000) Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa: reconstruction of the population's history. Oryx 34: 46-55.
- Whitehouse, A.M. (2002) Tusklessness in the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology 257: 249-254.
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Irwin, P.R. (2002) A field guide to the Addo elephants. International Fund for Animal Welfare / Rhodes University Environmental Education Unit, Port Elizabeth
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Kerley, G.I.H. (in press) Retrospective assessment of long-term conservation management of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Oryx.
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.H. (in press) Paternity in the Addo elephant population, south Africa. Is a single male monopolising matings? African Zoology
- Whitehouse, A.M. & Schoeman, D.S. (in press) Ranging behaviour of elephants within a small, fenced area in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology.
- Whitehouse, A.M. (2001) The Addo elephants: conservation biology of a small, closed population. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth.
Contact Details / Enquiries:
- Dr Ayanda Sigwela
- Tel: +27 (0) 41 508 5411
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Matt Hayward is studying the newly introduced lions. The Southern Red Bishop has been the subject of more than 10 years of research in the park.
RECENT PUBLISHED LITERATURE back to top
Lombard, A.T., Johnson, C.F., Cowling, R.M. & Pressey, R.L. 2001. Protecting plants from elephants: botanical reserve scenarios within the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Biological Conservation 102: 191-203.
Knight, M.H., Kshatriya, M., Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Nicholls, A.O. & Hall-Martin, A.J. 2001. Evaluating herbivore extinction probabilities in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology 36(1): 13-22.
Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G., McLachlan, A. & Winter, P.E.D. 1998. Recomendations for the conservation and management of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the Algoa Bay region, South Africa. Koedoe 41(2): 121-129.
Landman, M. & Kerley, G.I.H. 2001. Dietary shifts: do grazers become browsers in the Thicket Biome? Koedoe 44(1): 31-36.
Woodd, A.M. 1999. A demographic model to predict future growth of the Addo elephant population. Koedoe 42(1): 79-100.
Paley, R.G.T. & Kerley, G.I.H. 1998. The winter diet of elephant in Eastern Cape Subtropical Thicket, Addo Elephant National Park. Koedoe 41(1): 37-46.
Castley, J.G., Bruton, J-S., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. The importance of seed dispersal in the Alexandria Coastal Dunefield, South Africa. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 57-70.
Castley, J.G., Kerley, G.I.H. & McLachlan, A. 2001. Biotic processes in a coastal dunefield: an assessment of seed removal, with non-native seed removal experiments. Journal of Coastal Conservation 7: 49-56.
Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.C. 2001. Post-bottleneck genetic diversity of elephant populations in South Africa, revealed using microsatellite analysis. Molecular Ecology 10: 2139-2149.
Whitehouse, A.M., Hall-Martin, A.J. & Knight, M.H. 2001. A comparison of methods used to count the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park. African Journal of Ecology 39: 140-145.
Whitehouse, A.M. & Hall-Martin, A.J. (2000) Elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa: reconstruction of the population's history. Oryx 34: 46-55.
Whitehouse, A.M. (2002) Tusklessness in the elephant population of the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology 257: 249-254.
Whitehouse, A.M. & Irwin, P.R. (2002) A field guide to the Addo elephants. International Fund for Animal Welfare / Rhodes University Environmental Education Unit, Port Elizabeth
Whitehouse, A.M. & Kerley, G.I.H. (in press) Retrospective assessment of long-term conservation management of elephants in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. Oryx.
Whitehouse, A.M. & Harley, E.H. (in press) Paternity in the Addo elephant population, south Africa. Is a single male monopolising matings? African Zoology
Whitehouse, A.M. & Schoeman, D.S. (in press) Ranging behaviour of elephants within a small, fenced area in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. African Zoology.
Whitehouse, A.M. (2001) The Addo elephants: conservation biology of a small, closed population. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Port Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth.
Contact details / Enquiries:
Dr Ayanda Sigwela
Tel: +27(0)41 508 5411
Dr. Matt Hayward is studying the newly introduced lions
The Southern Red Bishop has been the subject of more than 10 years of research in the park
Greater AENP Project
SANParks as the country's premier conservation organisation has been mandated by the national government to expand South Africa's protected areas from the present 6% to 8% of the country's surface area and up to 20% from 2% of the coastline by 2010.
This has entailed a shift in conservation philosophy from one of preservationism to an ecosystem-focused approach incorporating the interwoven ecological patterns and processes concepts. National parks as megabiodiversity repositories primarily serve conservation purposes, but also have an enormous potential for economic development, so much so that when fully developed they should be viewed as an asset and not a liability to South African society. In meeting both conservation and socio-economic obligations SANParks is attempting to address the issue of conserving a healthy environment, thus combining the objectives of restitution with conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. One such project is the greater Addo Elephant National Park project (GAENP).
SANParks initiated a planning process in 2000 to investigate the expansion of the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This region is biologically diverse and presents an excellent opportunity for expanding the South African protected area network.
The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) focused on ecological and socio-economic analyses required to drive the implementation process. A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was commissioned to consolidate existing data to facilitate the development of a strategic conservation plan for the expansion project.
This section summarises these activities over the past three years and presents milestones that have already been achieved in terms of implementation and the road ahead.
- To guarantee the long-term conservation of the regions unique biodiversity, patterns and processes through expansion.
- To reduce critical threats facing the park.
- Efficient & effective management.
- To promote a sustainable & inclusive "eco-tourism" industry.
- To promote capacity building in neighbouring communities and institution.
- To expand to 270 000 ha, exclusive of a 120 000 ha Marine Protected Area.
- To conserve elements of 5 of South Africa's 7 biomes.
- The first National Park to boast of the Big 7 (elephant, buffalo, rhino, leopard, Southern right whale & great white shark).
- A disease (malaria) free ecotourism destination.
- Economic development in impoverished Eastern Cape region.
- The gateway to the Garden Route.
Socio-economics: It was soon clear that the implementation of the conservation plan for the region needed to be overlaid within the socio-economic environment. As part of the SEA, a number of specialist studies sought to consolidate the information from the socio-economic environment in order to identify areas where SANParks could improve or initiate action. The impact of the gAENP, especially in terms of land purchase, resettlement, cultural heritage and the creation of job opportunities on the region was assessed.
- Ecotourism could create 4 times as many jobs as currently in agriculture.
- The gAENP could generate as many as 1500 additional jobs, contractual jobs through Poverty Relief and Working for Water.
- Expanded opportunities for especially the farm workers through capacity building. A detailed capacity building programme will be initiated in 2005.
- A Resettlement Action Plan and Policy Framework, a first for SANParks and regarded by the World Bank as Best Practice, was developed to plan for the future of the farm workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the gAENP.
- The park plays a major role in the region's economic development, especially through ecotourism. Already various numbers of B&Bs and associated activities had sprouted in the Sunday's River Valley. The University of Potchefstroom is currently conducting a desk-top study to ascertain precisely what AENP's impact is on the region's economy.
- The park plays a major role in development projects in accordance with the affected municipalities' Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).
- Continued communication through the Addo Planning Forum with relevant stakeholders, including government departments, local municipalities, business, tourism, local communities, farmers and farm workers goes a long way in dispelling fears about the project.
Since 2000, the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) has been undergoing a process of expansion. New land purchase has been made possible by funds from the government and overseas donors. This process as well as the rehabilitation and fencing of the new land, is still underway.
The process of expansion began in 1997, when the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit at the University of Port Elizabeth published a report: "A proposal for a Greater Addo National Park" (Kerley & Boshoff, 1997) calling for the amalgamation of the AENP and the Woody Cape Nature Reserve and further expansion into the surrounding areas to stimulate sustainable development and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.
In 2000, a proposal was made to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for funding for planning and implementation of the Greater Addo Project. In 2001, the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) approved the expansion principle.
With funding from GEF, a detailed research process took place in order to determine which land should ideally be included in the AENP. A Conservation Planning Framework identified the land classes in the proposed area and then took into account factors such as ecological processes, potential threats and vulnerability of each land class, as well as conservation targets for populations of fauna.
Money for the purchase of land comes from the Park Development Fund. This is an internal cost centre where funds are generated through the sale of wildlife assets, DEAT and donors. It is also the first time in many years that central government has allocated funds for land purchase to expand national parks.
Land purchase always occurs on a willing buyer - willing seller principle. In some cases, a landowner's land inside the AENP area is exchanged for land outside the AENP area (i.e. SANParks purchases the land outside the area in order to exchange it). SANParks can invoke the right to compel a landowner to sell land but this has never occurred within the history of purchase of land for the AENP and SANParks avoids this situation at all costs.
SANParks is compelled by law to look after the interests of any workers who are affected by the land purchase. Consultants were engaged to track down and create a database of all workers who were affected by SANParks' purchase of land since 1997. SANParks must ensure that all these workers have the same or better housing, salary and benefits (e.g. rations, right to keep livestock on land etc.). Either the worker moves to a new farm with the original landowner or SANParks must give the worker employment - permanent or, if this is not available, contractual.
Once land has been purchased, the process of rehabilitating the land must begin. Since 2000, SANParks has received R55 million from the government (DEAT) for this purpose. This money was given through a Poverty Relief programme, which employs previously unemployed people from local communities in a two-year project. During this time, workers undergo training to equip them with skills to help them to secure work after they exit the programme.
Recently, the Park has also been expanded by means of public-private contractual partnerships such as River Bend (about 1 000ha) and the Kuzuko Contractual Area (just under 15 000ha). Here, private landowners have signed a long-term contractual agreement with SANParks, bringing private land under the management of the national park. Indigenous wildlife is introduced into the contractual area and it is managed in terms of SANParks conservation policies while the contractual partner operates a tourism business in the area.
The park is currently about 170 000 hectares (one hectare = 100 metres x 100 metres) in size, making Addo Elephant National Park the third largest national park in South Africa, after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It stretches from Woody Cape (between Bushman's River mouth in the east and Sundays River mouth in the west) in the south, moving northwards across the Colchester area (originally known as Olifantsplaat and Vetmaakvlakte), across the original elephant enclosure or Main Game Area, across to the Nyathi Concession area, encompassing a large part of the Zuurberg mountain range, moving westwards, and then northwards across the Zuurberg to the Darlington Dam area and Kuzuko Contractual Area up to the R400 (between Jansenville and Paterson).
The Bird and St. Croix island groups and a small Marine Protected Area around Bird Island, which protects a large variety of marine life, were proclaimed part of the Park in 2005. Bird Island is home the world's largest breeding colony of Cape gannets St Croix Island is home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins.
The expanded park is rich in biodiversity, conserving five of South Africa's nine biomes (Mucina & Rutherford 2006) - namely Albany Thicket, Fynbos, Forest, Nama Karoo and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt. It is also the world's first Big Seven conservation area, home to the traditional Big Five plus the Southern Right whale and Great White shark.
Once the process of expansion is completed, it is envisaged that the park will cover some 240 000 hectares on land with a proposed further 120 000 hectares of marine protected area. Although the Park is divided in places by roads, fences and railways, the long-term goal is to consolidate and expand the Park and link up the sections with corridors to ensure that the Park can be managed in as natural a state as possible.
Birding in Addo Elephant National Park
Addo's birding opportunity covers excellent habitat contrast between dense thickets of Spekboom interspersed with open grassy areas and wooded kloofs (particularly in the Zuurberg region).
And now that the park has expanded to include areas of Nama-Karoo, coastal dune-fields, coastal islands and the Alexandria Forest , a variety of other habitats swell the birding potential of the park.
In and around the Addo rest camp Karoo and Cape Robin , Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Southern Tchagra and Cape Bunting are prominent, with Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Malachite and Greater Double-collared Sunbird also easily found. A trip into the game viewing area will not produce a plethora of birds, but Bokmakierie will once more be prominent, and Martial Eagle, Southern Black Korhaan and Secretary bird may well be seen.
In the wooded kloofs of the Zuurberg, Crowned Eagles breed. Forest species typical of the Eastern Cape , such as Olive Bush Shrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Cape Batis can also be searched for.
Alexandria Forest has many forest species, such as Knysna Turaco, Black Cuckoo (summer only), Grey Cuckoo-shrike, Chorister Robin and the special of the location, Cape Parrot .
The coastal grasslands south of Alexandria Forest are home to exciting species such as Denham’s Bustard (with impressive displaying during summer) and Black-winged Plover.
The coastal islands have impressive breeding colonies of Cape Gannet and African Penguin.
The Karoo vegetation around Darlington Lake is home to many Karoo endemics such as Pririt Batis, Rufous-eared Warbler and Karoo Chat.
(For more birding information and the park's bird checklist, go to Information for Birders)
This Park offers some of the most spectacular elephant viewing in the world. Addo’s over 600 elephants will delight visitors with their antics.
The over 400 Cape buffalo are now being seen more often during the day due to the influence of lion reintroduction. This is one of the largest disease-free herds in South Africa.
Six lions were introduced into the Park in late 2003 and have adapted well to their new environment. Lions are most often seen in the early morning or on sunset and night drives.
Spotted hyenas were also reintroduced in 2003, fulfilling the same role as lions in restoring the natural balance to the ecosystems in the Park by controlling the numbers of herbivores.
Leopard are very seldom seen, being shy and secretive animals, but do occur in most areas of the expanded Park.
Antelope species abundant in the main game area of the Park include red hartebeest, eland, kudu and bushbuck.
The Burchell’s zebra, many with the pale rumps reminiscent of the extinct qwagga, occur in the Park.
Warthogs are abundant.
The rare flightless dung beetle is king of the road in Addo, with signs warning visitor that this recycling machine has right of way. The beetles are only seen when conditions are not too hot and not too cold and play an important role in recycling nutrients and helping the growth of thicket vegetation.
The outlying areas of the Park have very different animals on offer:
- The Zuurberg mountain range is home to the Cape mountain zebra, mountain reedbuck, baboons, blue duiker, aardwolf and red rock rabbit.
- Hippos are found in the Sundays River which flows at the base of these mountains. Endemics such as the red fin minnow and yellowfish are found in the tributaries of the river.
- Gemsbok, black wildebeest, springbok, buffalo and black rhino are found in the arid nama-karoo around the Darlington Dam area. The coastal forest is home to bushbuck, bushpig, brown hyena and the rare tree dassie.
- Download the full species list
The Park encompasses five of South Africa’s nine biomes:
Albany Thicket in the original Addo section (also in the Kabouga, Colchester and Nyathi sections), Fynbos in the Zuurberg section, Forest in the Woody Cape area and Zuurberg section, Nama Karoo in the Darlington section and Kuzuko Contractual Area of the Park and the Indian Ocean Coastal Belt on the seaward side containing remarkable displays of coastal dunes and coastal grassy plains.
Albany Thicket Biome
Indian Ocean Coastal Belt
- Low, A.B. & Rebelo, A.G. (eds.) 1996. Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Pretoria.
- Mucina, L. & Rutherford, M.C. (eds.) 2006. The vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Vlok, J.H.J & Euston-Brown, D.I.W. 2002. Subtropical Thicket Ecosystem Planning Project (STEP). Biological Survey Report (plants and birds). Report, Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit, Univ. of Port Elizabeth.
- Von Maltitz, G., Mucina, L., Geldenhuys, C.J., Lawes, M., Eeley, H., Adie, H., Vink, D., Fleming, G. & Bailey, C. 2003. Classification system for South African indigenous forests: An objective classification for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. Report ENV-P-C 2003-017, Environmentek, CSIR, Pretoria.
Information above compiled by: ME Daemane & H Bezuidenhout, CSD, Kimberley, May 2009
||Bitis albanica||very rare|
|Olive house snake
|Brown house snake
||Lamprophis fuliginosus fuliginosus|
|Speckled house snake
|Spotted harlequin snake
|Speckled bush snake
|Green water snake
|Natal green watersnake
||Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis|
||Duberria lutrix lutrix|
||Dasypeltis scabra scabra|
|Green parrot-beaked tortoise
|Rock Monitor Lizard/Leguaan
||Varanus niloticus niloticus|
|Water Monitor Lizard/Leguaan
||Varanus exanthematicus albigularis|
|Tasman's Girdled Lizard
|Cape Girdled Lizard
|Southern Rock Agama
|Golden Legless Skink
||Acontias meleagris orientalis|
|Tasman's Burrowing Skink
||Acontias percivali tasmani|
|Slendertailed Legless Skink
||Acontias gracilicauda gracilicauda|
|Smith's Striped Skink
||Mabuya homalocephala smithii|
|Cape Grass Lizard
||Pachydactylus mariquensis mariquensis|
||Pachydactylus maculatus maculatus|
|Essex's Leaf-toed Gecko
|Common Cape Gecko
|Smith's Dwarf Chameleon
|Gray's Dwarf Chameleon
Please note: this list is not comprehensive and may not include all species of reptiles found in the park. The list includes reptiles found in the main game area.
Common river frog
Clicking stream frog
Bubbling kassina/Running frog
Common caco/Dainty frog
Cacosternum nanum nanum
Painted reed frog
Yellow-striped reed frog
Armoured reed frog
Bushveld rain frog
Breviceps adspersus pentheri
Please note: this list is not comprehensive and may not include all species of amphibians found in the park. The list includes amphibians found in the main game area.
The Addo Elephant National Park encompasses a unique and complex bit of earth history covering about the last 500 million years. This includes the more recent events during the evolution of planet Earth, which is estimated to be about 4,5 billion years old.
Marine & Coastal
The coastal area of Addo Elephant National Park stretches between Sundays River Mouth and Bushman’s River Mouth.
It incorporates the Alexandria Dunefield – the largest (covering approximately 15 800 hectares) and least degraded coastal dunefield in the southern hemisphere. SANParks assumed management of this coastal area in 2002, with its transfer from the provincial conservation department.
Bird Island and St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay were proclaimed as part of Addo Elephant National Park in 2005. Bird Island is part of a group of four islands and is an important breeding place for marine bird species. Bird Island supports the largest breeding colony of Cape gannets in the world (over 160 000 birds) as well as other birds such as African penguins and rare roseate terns. Seal Island (near Bird Island) supports a breeding colony of Cape fur seals. St. Croix Island, nearer to the town of Port Elizabeth, is home to a large breeding colony of African penguins.
A Marine Protected Area (MPA) was proclaimed around Bird Island to protect important marine resources such as abalone (perlemoen).
A larger MPA of an envisaged 120 000 hectares is proposed for Algoa Bay. However, an extensive public participation process will take place to gather issues and concerns of interested and affected parties before an application is made for proclamation of this MPA.
South Africa has five major coastal types that need protection, namely rocky shores, sandy shores, offshore, soft sediments and estuaries. All of these are represented in the AENP marine protected area.
The South African coastline covers a distance of over 3 000 km, more than 80% of which consists of sandy beaches and sand dunes. Other ecosystems include rocky shores, coral reefs, kelp beds and the open sea. Two hundred and seventy of the world's 325 fish families occur in South African waters. The east coast waters are characterised by the warm waters of the southward flowing Agulhas Current, while those of the west coast are characterised by the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela Current.
Along the southwest and south coast, there is an extensive mixing of water masses. The currents influence the composition of the animal and plant communities along this coastline. Sandy beaches consist of an unstable sandy bottom layer that is continually modified by waves and currents, resulting in an absence of plants between the tide marks. Yet, a few animal species have adapted to live in this harsh environment. For example, the plough snail (Bullia sp.) and white mussel (Donax sp.) have adapted by burrowing in the sand. These animals emerge to feed when conditions are relatively mild, or they sit tight in the sand and filter food particles from the seawater with siphons or strainers.
The rocky shores that are scattered along the coastline provide a firm foundation for the attachment of plants and animals, but are exposed twice a day by the tides and are often lashed by a strong wave action. These shores support a great diversity of marine organisms, some of which are commercially significant, for example, mussels, oysters and seaweed.
The intertidal and the subtidal zones provide feeding grounds for many species of fish, some of which are important angling species. In the open sea, there is no firm base, and organisms must either drift or be able to swim. Examples include the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), phytoplankton and zooplankton. The main focus of commercial fisheries is centered in the more productive waters of the southwest and south coasts as these waters have fewer species in greater numbers compared to the east coast waters which are characterised by a greater biotic diversity.
People with disabilities
- An in-depth accessibility profile for Addo Elephant National Park has been compiled.
- View the accessibily features overview for Addo Elephant National Park, as featured in the Rolling Inspiration magazine.
- Please see additional information on Wheelchair Accessibility.
Addo Rest Camp:
Matyholweni Rest Camp:
Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.
Accessible Activities & Facilities
- Discovery trail
A short walk in the main camp, with one loop suitable for wheelchairusers and visually-impaired visitors.
- SASOL Red Bishop bird hide
In the main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Waterhole viewpoint
Floodlit waterhole at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Underground hide
Underground viewing hide at main camp (suitable for wheelchair-users).
- Game area picnic site
Download the birding checklist for Addo Elephant National Park.