The Largest National Parks in South Africa

A male Southeast African lion: the iconic species of South Africa's national parks.
A male Southeast African lion: the iconic species of South Africa's national parks.

South Africa is a nation situated in the Southern tip of Africa. The nation has an area of 471,443 square miles. South Africa’s landscape is comprised of spectacular plateaus, expansive deserts, beautiful beaches, and rugged hills. South Africa has a wealth of wildlife and vegetation that colonize the different regions of the country. The nation has established National parks and conservation areas to protect its rare plants and animals. Famous national parks in South Africa include Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park.

South Africa's National Parks

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is the oldest Park in South Africa. It was established in 1926 after a motion in the parliament raised the concern of the declining animal population in the area.It is also the largest National park in the country covering an area of 7,500 square miles. The park is located in the Northeastern region of South Africa. Several rivers flow through the park including River Limpopo which forms the North border of the park and River Crocodile which forms the Southern boundary. The Lebombo Mountains are on the eastern border of the park. The park experiences subtropical climate and temperatures often rising above 38 °C. The park’s vegetation is comprised of red bushwillow, Acacia, Marula tree, buffalo grass, red grass, Leadwood, and mopane tree. Kruger National Park supports more than 500 bird species like the martial eagle, ground hornbill, Pel's fishing owl and saddle-billed stork. It is home to the largest number of large mammals in all African reserves. The big five inhabit Kruger National Park. Additionally, amphibians, reptiles, and fish are found in the park. The park is guarded by 650 game rangers and two drones. Webcams are strategically placed to monitor the wildlife.

Table Mountain National Park

The park is located in Cape Town, the southwestern most of South Africa. The park which was established in 1998 covers an area of 85 square miles. The most prominent features of the park are the Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope which is situated at the south-western extremity of the country. The park has numerous plants most of which are rare and endemic to the area. Some of the plants are Silver trees, Acacia Cyclops, and invasive pines. Animals found in the park include Cape lion, spotted hyena, mountain zebra, and kudu. The rare amphibian species of Table Mountain ghost frog only exists in the Table Mountain National Park. The park's wildlife and vegetation are threatened by rapid urbanization that leads to habitat destruction for the plants and animals.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

The park which is situated in Free State covers an area of 130 square miles. It is famous for its scenic landscapes comprised of golden, orange hue, deeply eroded sandstone cliffs. Wildlife in the park consists of zebras, mountain reedbuck, springbok, and black wildebeest. The park has mountain grassland vegetation and a variety of grass species. It is protected by the South African National Parks.

Garden Route National Park

Garden Route National Park was established in March 2009 along the south-eastern coast of South Africa. The park’s 470 square miles area is made up of tall cliffs, rocky beaches, lagoons, temperate evergreen forests and large rivers. Vegetation at the park includes ferns, lichens, and mosses. Garden Route National Park supports animals like Cape clawless otters, blue duiker, vervet monkeys, and leopards. Human settlement in the park although sparse poses a threat to the park’s resources. The park is under the management of South Africa National Parks.

Threats And Conservation

South Africa has abundant national parks and nature reserves. The parks were established to protect endangered plants and animals in the country. Some of the threats are poachers, illegal loggers, and human settlements in the parks. South Africa has many game rangers who guard the parks and keep off poachers. The government also uses modern technologies such as drones to ensure that the parks are well protected.

South Africa's National Parks By Land Area

Park Area (Sq mi)
Kruger National Park7,523
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park3,750
Richtersveld National Park2,334
Addo Elephant National Park630
Tankwa Karoo National Park554
Garden Route National Park470
Augrabies Falls National Park320
Karoo National Park297
Namaqua National Park270
Marakele National Park260
Golden Gate Highlands National Park130
Mapungubwe National Park110
Mountain Zebra National Park110
West Coast National Park106
Table Mountain National Park85
Agulhas National Park81
Mokala National Park76
Camdeboo National Park75
Bontebok National Park11

More in Environment