Cape Town - In May this year, two wildlife icons of the world celebrated their 90th birthdays.
Britain's Sir David Attenborough celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday, 8 May, and on 31 May this year, the Kruger National Park (KNP) also marked its 9th decade of existence.
To celebrate this incredible milestone, the Kruger is inviting SA locals to share their fondest Kruger memories, and what the Park has meant to them over the last 90 years.
“There are people, who are beyond their golden years, that have been coming to the Park every year since they were infants," says Glenn Phillips, Managing Executive for Kruger. "You hear these loyal seniors referring to their early Park expeditions as a pilgrimage."
Since the Kruger's call, memories from the park have been shared on various social media platforms and many people have shared their stories.
Anette Du Preez responded on Facebook saying, "It is the best place in the world. My paternal grandmother loved the park (she lived in Malelane).
"My first memories are as a little girl in my grandparents' car - not being able to see the animals outside... the smell of sugar cane baking in the summer heat.
"Both my brothers got engaged in Tamboti, we have so many good family memories there..."
Eugene J Martens writes, "My first visit to Lower Sabie was in 1948. The only accomodation was in tents with woden duckboard floors - many nights the hyena would prowl around the tents..."
Lyn Hughes says "We first went in 1956 at the age of 7, and just loved it as soon as we went through the gate. The tents were just wonderful and the smell of Kruger will always stay with me, nothing can beat it.
"Just loved standing around the braai at night with my Dad and Mom and telling people what I had seen that day and hearing what they had seen."
Dylan Rogers says, "My dad took me as a kid for the first time when I was really young, there was a gentleman from France who shared our campfire the one night, and he had one of those kids tents that were in the shape of Garfield - remember those from the 90's?
"Anyway, I go a few times a year now, my favourite place on earth. Thanks dad."
Ginny du Toit says the park has always restored her. "It's a very special place and I have so many memories of trips from Punda down to Pretoriuskop and Croc Bridge.
"We have stayed in all the main camps and many of the smaller ones over the years... Whether I see big five or little five I always leave feeling restored."
What's your fondest Kruger memory? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook and Twitter.
The Kruger History
Research shows that President Paul Kruger’s Volksraad (parliament) established the Government Game Reserve during 1898. The National Parks Act – the previous act of parliament that governed national parks in South Africa – was ratified before parliament on 31 May 1926.
Therefore, technically, we now celebrate the KNP’s 90th birthday on this day, even though the first components thereof are already over 118 years old.
Phillips hopes the trip down memory lane will encourage South African locals to visit the Park more to get closer to nature. He says the park represents so much more than a recreational facility in SA.
"As we observe this important milestone for the birth of the KNP, we must all resolve to ensure that we take a lead in signifying the importance of conservation and preserve this protected area for many generations to come," Phillips says.
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