Addo Elephant National Park- Wildlife Watching : 4×4 Africa
Addo Elephant National Park is a one of the wildlife conservation parks in South Africa positioned close to Geberha area. Covering an area of approximately 1,640 square kilometers, the park ranks third in size after Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It has been expanded to include the woody cape nature reserve which stretches from the Sundays River mouth towards Alexandria and a marine reserve. This marine reserve includes St. Croix Island and Bird Island which are both breeding habitats for different wildlife like gannets and penguins and other variety of marine life.
The bird Island is a habitat to the world’s largest breeding colony of gannets, over 120,000 bird species also hosts the second largest breeding colony of the African penguins since the largest breeding colony is at St. Croix Island. All these marine assets will lead to the expansion of Addo Elephant national park from 1,640 square kilometers to 3,600 square kilometers thus being referred to as Greater Addo Elephant National Park.
The expansion of the park will not only make the park contain the five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones but it will be the only park in the world to host the Africa’s big 7 which include the African Elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino, leopard, whale and the great white shark.
Due to Sydney Skaife’s efforts, Addo Elephant National Park was founded in 1931 in order to protect and provide a sanctuary for the eleven remaining elephants in the area. Since that period, the park has been very successful and currently protects over 600 elephants and other variety of mammal species.
Wildlife in Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is a home to more than 600 African Bush elephants, 400 cape buffalos, over 48 endangered black rhinos and a variety of antelope species. Recently, the lions and the spotted hyenas have also been re – introduced to the park. Also, Addo Elephant National Park is a home to the remaining population of the flightless dung beetles. Other animals sighted in the park include the Burchell’s zebras, red hartebeest, warthogs, and all the five Africa’s big animals.
Have an excellent birding experience in Addo Elephant National Park by trailing into their habitats particularly in the Zuurberg region. Due to the expansion of the park to areas like Darlington Lake, woody cape, the coastal islands and Alexandria forest, there is a great opportunity for the birders to spot a numerous bird species. Among the birds to be sighted include the olive bush shrike, cape batis, the yellow throated woodland warbler, the black cuckoo, the grey cuckoo shrike, chorister robin chat, dark backed weaver, Knysna turaco, spectacular narina trogon, black winged plover, cape gannet, African penguin, Denham’s bustard, martial eagle, secretary bird, blue crane, black headed heron, brown hooded kingfisher, the karoo endemics like the tufous eared warbler, the pririt batis and the karoo chat. Also other species include the lesser flamingos, Goliath herons, fresh water terns, greyheaded gulls and many others.
All these birds can be sighted at different areas within the park like in the Alexandria forests, the coastal grasslands, the coastal islands, in the wooded kloofs of the Zuurberg, in and around the Addo rest camp, the Karoo vegetation which is around Darlington Lake and in many other areas.
Flora of the park
The flora within Addo Elephant National Park is a bit varied and thus being a central factor to the ecological system in the place. The region within the park is encompassed by several species of rare and endemic plants more particularly the succulent shrubs and geophytes which are natives to the area. Many species within Addo Elephant national park are under the environmental pressures though somehow face possible extinctions.