Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa, covering an area of over seven thousand square miles. It's also South Africa’s oldest national park, originally founded in 1928. Located along the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique in the farthest northeastern corner of South Africa, more species of large mammals reside within its confines than any other park in all of Africa. 517 species of birds may be found in the park, though only about half are year round residents. Included in the many species of mammals are many endangered animals, such as elephants, the African wild dog, hippopotamus, leopard, and cheetahs.
The overly large elephant population is an odd cause for concern amongst park officials. The park’s habitats can only sustain around 8,000 elephants, but the current population is over twice that many at nearly 17,000. There have been several attempts to contain the population, including: culling, which was abandoned in 1994; contraception, abandoned since it upset the herds; and translocating.
Kruger has 21 rest camps, fifteen designated safari lodges, and two privately owned lodges that work in partnership with the park. Camping in the park has become increasingly popular with tourists, as it is much less expensive and open to anyone. There are nine different trails in Kruger, several of which are overnight through areas of wilderness nearly untouched by humans. Sections don’t even have trails; visitors must seek their own paths through the South African bush.
As Kruger National Park is home to a number of rare animals, there has been trouble with poaching throughout its long history. In the 1980s the problem was elephant poachers, but that has since abated. Currently the problem is rhinoceros poaching. Poachers most often go after the larger white rhino population, as they are more prevalent and less aggressive than black rhinos. Poachers are most often citizens of the neighboring Mozambique, who operate near the border at night during the new moon, when the night sky is most dark. A number of measures have been taken to prevent poachers, such as specially trained dog units, buffer-zones along the Mozambique border, automated movement sensor relays, and border fences.