Paul Kruger Statue

Paul Kruger StatuePaul Kruger Statue sits outside the Paul Kruger gate, commonly known as Kruger Gate.  But who was Paul Kruger? Why does he have his own statue?

Paul Kruger – the father of conservation in South Africa.  Paul Kruger – the founder of the Kruger Natuonal Park

Paul Kruger was born October 1825, growing up in the veld – an accomplished marksman and an expert in bush craft. Durning one of his hunts his gun exploded and blew off his left thumb which never affected his proficiency with a rifle. Both his first wife and child died of malaria, his second wife however gave him 16 children, some sadly also dying at birth.

In 1877 he stood for the presidency of Transvaal and was elected in December 1880. As an ardent hunter in his youth he soon realized the urgent need to protect the fast diminishing wildlife. And Pongola (present day Shingwedzi) Reserve was finally proclaimed June 1894. Boundaries were agreed upon and in 1899 the birth of Sabie Game Reserve was establish – and therefore indirectly the Kruger National Park. However with the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War, the lowveld became a battlefield, with the Sabie Game Reserve taking the blunt of the fighting.  Both sides using the area for rations and the killing of animals continued.   Hostilities finally ended in May 1902 and the crucial task was to appoint someone who could take control of the Reserve and eradicate the killing of the animals.

In 1902 James Stevenson Hamilton was appointed head ranger, and between wars, farmers and gold miners James Stevenson Hamilton and Paul Kruger fought to establish a national park in interests of the country and preserving of wildlife. Finally in 1926 Minister Grobler tabled the National Parks bill, being seconded by General Jan Smuts and the reserve Kruger National Park was accepted unanimously.

The statue of Paul Kruger was commissioned and erected outside Paul Kruger Gate. The statue was unveiled in 1976 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the park.  And will forever remind us the crucial role Paul Kruger had in establishing and founding our beloved Kruger Park as we know it today.

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