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Pilanesberg National Park

Location:  North West Province, South Africa
Nearest city: Sun City, South Africa
Area:  572 km²
Established:  1979
Governing body:  North West Parks Board

The Pilanesberg National Park is located in North West Province in South Africa, west of Pretoria. The park borders with the entertainment complex Sun City. The park was originally owned by three local tribes, and now by the north west parks board. This leads to confusion regularly as it is expected that the park is managed by the South African governments National Park Service as almost all other national parks in South Africa are.

The area is fringed by three concentric ridges or rings of hills, of which the formation rises from the surrounding plains, this is the parks primary geological feature named the Pilanesberg National Park Alkaline Ring Complex. This vast circular geological feature is ancient even by geological standards as it is the crater of a long extinct volcano and the result of eruptions some 1,200 million years ago. It is one of the largest volcanic complexes of its type in the world, the rare rock types and formations make it a unique geological feature. A number of rare minerals occur in the park. Pilanesberg National Park rates high amongst the world's outstanding geological phenomena

Scattered throughout the park are various sites that originate from the Iron age and Stone age and show the presence of man from those periods in these areas.

The park

Pilanesberg National Park, South AfricaThe park has an area of 572 km², making it the fourth largest National Park in South Africa. You can travel through in a standard road vehicle as although the 200 kilometres of track are not surfaced, they are well maintained. There are several camps serving the park from the outside, including Kwa Maritane and Manyane, and several stops on the inside where there are bars and gift shops. Towards the centre of the park there is an artificially constructed lake, the Mankwe Dam, and Thabayadiotso, which means "the Proud Mountain".

Flora and fauna

Plants

The scenic terrain lies in the transition zone between Kalahari and Lowveld, and both types of vegetation are found here. As a result of the park being on a trasition zone there are overlaps in mammals, birds and vegetation. Today, Pilanesberg National Park accommodates almost every mammal of southern Africa

Mammals

The park has a rich array of southern african Wildlife including the Big Five, the five most dangerous game animals in Africa. In the Pilanesberg National Park today live most of the animal species of southern Africa these include lions, elephants, white and black rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, zebras, hyenas, giraffes, hippos and crocodiles. Over 300 bird species were counted. All of the Big Five can be found here. The Pilanesberg is not in a location which the Big Five animals would naturally inhabit, however they have been brought into the 550 square kilometres of african bushland.

As of August 2004 the total count of animals was approximately 10,000 including:

  • 42 Lions (plus 32 month old cubs)
  • 12 Cheetah
  • 167 Elephant
  • 90 Black Rhino
  • 300 White Rhino
  • 40 Sable
  • 80 Buffalo
Giraffe in PilanesbergThe only indigenous southern african mammals that are not there are - bontebok, blesbuck, spotted hyena, nyala and roan.

Birdlife

The Bird life diversity is excellent with over 300 species having been recorded. Though some are migrants, most others are permanent inhabitants. Their food sources vary with some eating carrion or live prey, others eat seeds, fruit or tiny water organisms.

There is a self-guided trail in the Walking Area at the Manyane Complex in the east, which offers environmental education whilst game viewing and bird watching on foot. Also at Manyane there is a walk-in aviary with over 80 species of indigenous birds.

History

Pre 1970s

In the last century, Pilansberg served as a vary different kind of sanctuary to Mzilikaziís rebel Zulu warriors passed through the area as they fled the wrath of Zulu king, Shaka. During the Second Boer War, not long after this, General Christiaan de Wetís hid from the British amongst these same hills - perhaps promoting the later purchase of a farm in the area by South African Prime minister Jan Smuts.

1970s

During the late 1970s, President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana decided to re-introduce wildlife and turn the Pilansburg into a game reserve. With Bophuthatswana having been an independent homeland, the Park was proclaimed by the then local black government. The 52 cattle farmer in the area were bought out and moved to new homes elsewhere. The town of Pilanesberg was flattened and all that remains is the old Magistrates Court which is now called the Pilanesberg Centre. There is a little restaurant there with a stunning view. After this work began on Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the entire reserve and the re-introduction of long vanished species.

The only other remains is the small graveyard not visible except for a very short time about 1 in 3 years after controlled burning. The Park was seen as the National Park of Bophutatswana & of course called Pilanesberg National Park. With the forceful reoccupation by the old government and the ANC, President Lucas Mangope was deposed by a coup and Bop reincorporated with South Africa. Pilanesberg is one of the few names in South Africa that won't change as it is named after Chief Pilane, a very powerful chief that owns vast land outside the park. Chief Pilane's grandfather fought with the British against the Boers and had the reputation of being invisible. It seems that more land was given for services rendered.

The park was opened in 1979, as part of the South African Governments Operation Genesis.

1980s

6000 animals were resettled into the park over the course of the early 1980s with Operation Genesis which was the largest game resettlement programme in the history of the country. The 6000 animals were released into the quarrantine area of 10 km² in groups and after a few weeks the fences were dropped. This is the area now used for elephant back safaris. As the purpose of the park was a feeder for other parks no lion or cheetah were brought in. However leopard was naturally present as was brown hyena and mountain reedbuck. Currently this is The Park in the world that has the highest concentration of hyena. Also brought in was a family of elephant. As no mature bulls was brought in as they were too large, the young bulls caused a bit of havoc and killed 17 rhinoceroses. The reason for this was there was no parental care and the young bulls came into adolescence at too you an age. However by this time the transport techniques had improved so 6 older bulls were brought in from the Kruger. This suppressed the adolescence problem. The young culprits were all shot.

The creation of the Pilanesberg National Park is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world. The Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the reserve and the reintroduction of long-vanished species, began during the late 1970s. Operation Genesis is still the largest game translocation undertaken in the world, and as a result the park now has in excess of 10,000 animals.

1990s

In 1991 Nelson Mandela was released and all of a sudden tourism took off. So in 1993 the focus changed and predators were brought in including in 1993 some lions from the Etosha National Park in Namibia were introduced to the park, despite serious concerns for the surrounding communities. Since then the lions have been thriving and nicely multiplying in the park. A similar action with cheetahs from Namibia unfortunately has had no such success. Camps and lodges were built on the perimeter and it became a destination.

2000s

The size of the park was increased from 552 to 572 km² in May 2004 as part of a workable 10 year plan to establish a corridor between Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserve. The 20 km² that was added on the north western was the first bit from Pilanesberg's side. On the Madikwe's side there has already been several additions towards the south east. There are also several private owners dropping fences from the middle moving towards Pilanesberg and Madikwe. Property that was 2 years going for R30,000/km² is now selling for R500,000/km². In the immediate future there concluding plans to have a huge piece of land to be added to Pilanesberg in the next 2 years.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
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Latest update: October 15, 2016