Images of Southern Africa - Addo elephants

Addo Elephant National Park

When it was established in 1931 as one of South Africa's first National Parks, Addo (north of Port Elisabeth) contained only 11 elephants. Today it is home to over 350 elephant, 39 black rhinoceros and 280 Cape buffalo. In August 2003, seven lions were introduced from the Kalahari. There is a project to expand into a Greater Addo Park to incorporate five of South Africa's seven major vegetation units and include both terrestrial and marine environments. As a result, it is now advertised as being home to 'Africa's Big Seven' - the usual five, plus whales and great white sharks! As well as conserving the varied landscapes and associated biodiversity, the intention is to promote sustainable development and eco-tourism.

Addo is one of twenty National Parks in South Africa. Unlike Game Parks in other parts of Africa, the Parks in South Africa are fenced. They range in size from the first, Kruger (1926), at nearly 2 million hectares, to the smallest and most recent Vhembe-Dongola (1998), at just over 5000 hectares. Vhembe-Dongola is one of the first so-called ‘trans-frontier’ parks that straddles three countries: South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Addo Elephant National Park promotes itself as being ‘malaria-free’. With over half its 115,000 visitors per annum from overseas, this is an important selling-point. In recent years, there has been a growth in private game parks in the Eastern Cape, also being marketed as malaria-free tourist attractions. These have introduced big game to their parks, but without necessarily adhering to the same conservation principles as South Africa’s National Parks.

Further details on Addo Elephant National Park are available on its website.

Ideas for further exploration:

  • National Parks such as Addo were originally established to protect a single species, in this case the elephant. What are the ethical implications of ‘importing’ other species such as lions from parks hundreds of kilometres away?
  • Are Parks such as Addo becoming little more than large zoos?
  • What do you understand by the concept of sustainability when used in the context of National Parks such as that at Addo?
  • As National parks such as Addo diversify and become more popular, they attract more visitors. What are the implications for sustainability of such trends?
  • Trans-frontier Game Parks are sometimes known as ‘Peace Parks’. Why do you think this is? Is it an appropriate title for such Parks?
  • It would cost around SAR400 (approximately £36) for a South African family of four to stay for one night in the Addo Elephant National Park. What are the implications of this given that 61% of the population in 2002 lived below the official poverty line of SAR1100 (approximately £99) per month per household?


Photo courtesy of Flickr user Werner Bayer


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