Rebuilding the Greater Kruger
In the last two generations, substantial efforts have been made to restore the ecosystem to something resembling its former extent. Some of the land excised in 1923 proved unsuitable for cattle ranching or agriculture, intensive or extensive.
By the 1970s some very large properties, notably Londolozi in what is now the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, had been turned back to nature with the establishment of a new breed of luxury game reserve. Whilst less destructive to the ecosytem than ranching, these areas were nevertheless fenced off from the Kruger ecosystem.
The boundaries of the Kruger National Park itself remained largely stable after the tumultous first quarter of the twentieth century.
The next major change came in 1993 when the western boundary fence was removed from the areas adjoining the private nature reserves.
This fence removal has helped to restore the ecological integrity of the system. The vegetation and the animals that feed on it have had some opportunity to return to their pre-expropriation numbers and organisation.
To the west of the Park, further reserve consolidations have helped this trend. Continuing expansion of the Balule, Blyde-Olifants, Makalali and Selati conservancies is helping the restoration of biodiversity.
The veterinary fence "red line" now effectively delimiting the Greater Kruger has moved seventy kilometres west in places. Thus more than 400,000 hectares of privately owned protected areas have been re-incorporated to form the Greater Kruger National Park ecosystem.
The bush savannah plains within the perennial river systems of the Klaserie, Blyde, Olifants, Makutswi and Selati can now be understood as ecosystem ‘districts’ and not as individual ‘farms’, connected into the Greater Kruger ecosystem once again.
The private nature reserves in the Central Lowveld region, Klaserie, Umbabat, Thornybush, Timbavati, Sabi Sand, Kapama, Balule, Selati, Makalali, Karongwe and the Blyde-Olifants Conservancy now make up the largest privately owned nature reserve complex in the world. Including the recently-declared escarpment protected areas, half a million hectares has now been returned to nature.