Being on safari in Kruger National Park is different every day. Today, a leopard tortoise on the roadside brings a tourist vehicle to a halt. Tomorrow, it might be a herd of impala or a pride of lions in the road.
Peace Parks Foundation recognises the powerful impact of being out in the bush and on safari. It is not only a thrill to be close to wild animals, but people return physically and mentally refreshed, somehow powerfully reconnected to the world around them. And it is this connection that is so vital in everything that Peace Parks does – from reconnecting landscapes to connecting with partners and communities. And it runs from the top down, from CEO Werner Myburgh to other members of the Peace Parks team.
Today, Lésa (Communications Coordinator for Peace Parks) and Dale (Communications Practitioner for Peace Parks) are out in the field. They are looking for rhino. Kruger National Park is one of the last remaining strongholds of wild rhino in the world. An ongoing partnership between South African National Parks (SANParks), Peace Parks Foundation and South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), resulted in the deployment of the Postcode Meerkat – the most advanced wide-area surveillance system ever developed for counter-poaching purposes on the African continent. The system has greatly reduced poaching in areas where it’s in operation. Though Lésa and Dale only catch sight of the rhinos’ midden and rubbing posts, they are treated to a safari of their own, spotting herds of impala, spotted hyena, white-backed vultures and steenbok.
Each animal plays an important role in the ecosystem. The hyena, for example, are efficient at cleaning any carcasses that are left behind by larger predators. The antelope like impala and steenbok provide a great food source for larger predators. They are constantly grazing and browsing, eating leaves, grasses and berries, which helps to spread plant species as well as maintain the savannah and grassland – they are natural groundsmen!
Covering almost 20 000 km2 – an area almost as big as Israel – and renowned for its abundance of wildlife, Kruger National Park helps to repopulate protected areas such as Zinave National Park and Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique. In fact, only a few months ago, Peace Parks and partners translocated 27 Zebra and 62 blue wildebeest from Kruger to Zinave.