I’ve had Shaping Kruger by Mitch Reardon for quite a while now. I initially took it with me when I went to the Kruger Park on holiday, but merely dipped into it because I was busy with Kruger activities and it was hot when I was there. I then took it to two more Kruger trips with the same result. That it is not a quick and easy read thus becomes obvious.
Shaping Kruger is a scientific work which explains much about the Kruger, its history and, more particularly, its place in the conservation world. Early on one is reminded of the time when the area unhindered by human commercial endeavours stretched out to more than 20 times the size of the present Kruger National Park (together with the other transfrontier parks into which the present Kruger animals may migrate at will.) One is encouraged to think of the century of the Kruger National Park as being just a tiny fragment of time in which well-intentioned management has made many mistakes and learned little.
The book is divided up into chapters, each one of which focuses on a different large mammal of the Kruger. I learned a lot from each of these chapters, which animals stay in a small area, which ones migrate, which ones eat which ones, and why. Some of the information reinforces what Krugerholics would probably have worked out for themselves. Other information is new (at least to me) and somewhat revolutionary. It is important to be aware that despite each animal being discussed in a separate chapter there is no lack of understanding of how the various ecosystems impact each other.
The book explains why management in the Kruger is now in the process of closing so many of the artificial watering holes they created in the drought years of the seventies, with practical examples of what this will mean to various animal species.
Shaping Kruger deals with the controversial culling programmes of the past, and explains why these are probably unnecessary in the wider scheme of things, and how the natural cycles are expected to deal with issues of overpopulation of some species.
Reardon examines the research data of colleagues and students alike and deals with the scientific uncertainties and mistakes of the past and current hypotheses yet it remains readable, even fascinating, despite its scientific nature, to lay people with an interest in conservation. I would venture to say that it will be essential reading for professional conservationists along the entire continuum of practitioners.
Mitch Reardon is a wildlife photographer and the book is magnificently illustrated with some superb photographs.
I am really pleased that I persevered with this book, even though it eventually became an “at home” rather than Kruger holiday reading project.
- Title: Shaping Kruger
- Sub-Title: The Dynamics of Managing Wildlife in Africa’s Premier Game Park
- Author: Mitch Reardon
- Publisher: Random House Struik
- Year: 2013
- Genre: Nature
- ISBN: 9781431702459
- Recommended Selling Price: R280.00