Formerly known as the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve know the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. The park is the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa. 96000 hectares in size (960 square kilometers) that's the same size as Netherlands Antilles while Hong Kong is 1104 square kilometers. Officially opened in 1895 as a Park.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the only state run park in Kwazulu Natal that is home to the African Big 5. The park is world re known for its conservation efforts and history. The Umfolozi was previously used as King Shaka's private hunting grounds. The conservation efforts have contributed to this park having the largest population of White Rhino in the world.
The Northern section is known as the Hluhluwe side of the park while the southern section is known as the Imfolozi / Umfolozi Park.
The Imfolozi Park is 72000 hectares in size and the Hluhluwe Park is 24000 hectares in size.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Entrance Gates
History: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
Toni Harthoorn, left, and Ian Player sit astride a semi-immobilized white rhino in Imfolozi game reserve during Operation Rhino in the early 1960s.
The areas of Hluhluwe and the Umfolozi where primarily established to protect the White Rhinos which where at that time on the endangered list. Techniques developed by the game capture teams are still in use today should you be in the Imfolozi on a day safari then visit the Centenary center where one can see various methods used. Originally the park was made up of three separate reserves and was finally joined under its current title of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in 1989.
The white rhinoceros must surely be the most iconic animal in this province. In this series of articles we will explore the history of rhino conservation in KZN, and move on to take a look at their habits and behavior.
In the years leading up to the 1920s rhinos had been hunted almost to extinction by successive waves of explorers, settlers and hunters who moved into their ranges. The efforts of the old Natal administration and later the Natal Parks Board to conserve the species are the stuff of legend. Briefly put, a game conservation officer – a Mr H Vaughan Kirby – reported to the Natal Provincial Government in the early 1920s that there were only about 25 white (or square-lipped) rhinos left in the uMfolosi Game Reserve. These animals were duly given absolute protection. We have a sneaky suspicion that this canny gentleman deliberately under-reported the true situation in order to goad the administration into action… The tactic certainly worked.
White rhino numbers increased rapidly until they began overflowing the largely unfenced Umfolosi Game Reserve and causing more than a little upset in neighbouring community lands. In the 1960s the then Director of the Natal Parks Board, Colonel Jack Vincent, instructed his staff to examine ways of catching, removing and distributing the so-called “problem animals” and thereby spreading the species more widely. “The Colonel” was a far-sighted, canny man and his chief concern was the “inadvisability of keeping so many valuable eggs in one basket…”
With the unqualified support of the then Admininstrator of Natal Mr Douglas Mitchell, “The Colonel” issued instructions to his staff.
What followed created the white rhino legend of KZN conservation. Rangers in the uMfolosi Game Reserve, under the direction of “the Colonel” and led by Ian Player, assisted by a vet from East Africa Dr Anthony Harthoorn (who developed the amazing drug cocktail M99 with which a rhino could be immobilized and safely moved around), thought up and tried different ways of capture and relocation until they hit upon a classic method. With some refinements made possible by modern technology, this method is still in use today.
White rhinos were then moved to other selected game reserves all over southern Africa. It is fact that Umfolosi provided the initial stock for the re-populating of the Kruger National Park, Botswana, Mozambique and many other countries. Animals were also sent to selected zoos all over the world – a practice deemed advisable at the time but one long since abandoned.
(See http://www.rhinoresourcecenter.com/pdf_files/124/1246117964.pdf for Ian Players report)
Basically, a rhino was darted by a man on foot (which provided some classic moments of comedy and high drama), tracked by horsemen until the drug took effect, then coaxed into a crate, loaded onto the back of a lorry and taken to its next home. One of the first refinements was to use a stripped-down, doorless Land Rover to carry the shooter who would fire the dart from a fast moving, bumping vehicle into the rump of a running rhino – and this too provided its moments of hilarity and drama. A memorable event was the vehicle, in hot pursuit of a running rhino, making a very sharp right turn to at the moment Ian Player was semi-standing to fire the dart. Player and his dart gun were catapulted into the very thicket the driver was trying to avoid…
It is a point worth noting that in those early days the Hluhluwe and Umfolosi Game Reserves were not one big unit as they are today. They were linked, however, by a piece of state land known as the Corridor. Eventually, after much lobbying, the central government agreed in the 1980s to hand this land over to the Natal province in order to facilitate the creation of one big protected area which became the 96,000ha Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park we know today. The name “Umfolosi” was changed to the grammatically correct isiZulu form “iMfolozi”.
content courtesy: Rhino Club
Did You Know? Umfolozi Park
When the Natal Parks Board was established at the end of the nineteenth century (1947) there where only 14 White Rhino left in the world all in the Umfolozi area of Natal. Today Ezemvello is the world's sole supplier of White and Black Rhino to parks, reserves and Zoos across the world.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the genetic home to every White Rhino population in the World.
The White Rhino story has to be one of the most successful conservation efforts of all time.
White Rhino Game Capture / Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
Animal Celebrity's Black Rhino Hluhluwe
1870 - 1951 Hluhluwe's most famous Black Rhino named Waltzing Matilda become a visitors favorite and make international headlines was the one-horned Black Rhino bull, fondly named “Waltzing Matilda”, because of his swaggering gait, by visiting Australian troops, on a stopover en route to the theatre of World War II in Europe.
content courtesy of Leopard Walk Lodge
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Biodiversity
Home to 86 species including the African Big 5, some special wildlife include:
Nyala one of the top spots to view them, Nile Crocodile, Hippo, Giraffe, African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Kudu, Impala, Bushpig, common Warthog, Hyena, Water Buck, Duiker, Blue Wildebeest, Jackal and much more. The park is incredible should you be a avid birder with up to 340 species found within the area.
African Wild Dog
In 1981 African Wild Dogs where reintroduced into the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park ( 23 Wild Dogs) most of these animals had been bred in Zoo's. With limited success their are now between 4 and 30 Dogs in the Park. Witnessing these amazing creatures will be a absolute delight.
Hluhluwe & Imfolozi Park Compared
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Rules
- Max Speed 40 km/h
- Do Not Feed the Animals
- No Motorbikes are allowed
- No Pets are allowed
- Stay in your vehicle except for designated areas
- No passengers allowed in load bin
- Keep a safe distance from Elephants
- No driving allowed after dark
Please note that Gate Times Vary
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park Etiquette
A sighting of something incredible, a Lion Chase, Elephants Trumpeting who know's what your safari will offer all we ask is that you have patience. Everyone wants to see that something special Don't keep the road blocked take some incredible pictures, video and move on please.
Don't double park as management vehicles are moving about at all times. Keep the park clean, always remove any litter that you may have at any picnic areas. Do not throw litter out of your vehicle. Do not get out of your vehicle to take a picture.
Two Larger Accommodation's in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
Directions: Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park from Durban
Durban is situated South of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, getting to the park is easy. Take the N2 (national road) and travel North. Distance is approximately 250 km Central Durban. It's a scenic drive along sugar cane and some marvelous Indian Ocean views. Once you arrive at Mtubatuba take the R618 towards Nongoma travel approximately another 28 km and you have arrived at the Nyalazi Gate (Imfolozi Game Park).
Frequently Asked Questions - Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
What Other's Are Saying about Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
We were on a group tour and actually looking most forward to our day at Kruger, BUT we saw a lot more wildlife during our guided drive through Hluhluwe Game Reserve. I suggest hiring a guide and riding in one of the jeeps for the best views and possibility of seeing wild game...we saw all 5...amazing. The guides are in radio contact and tell each other when something is spotted. This is a beautiful and not to be missed game preserve. Early early morning is the best chance for seeing these beautiful; creatures in their natural habitat
The Hilltop chalets are situated high on the hilltop with spectacular views from the dining area. The accommodation was excellent and our chalet was in the middle of a forest with plenty of bird life to be seen and heard. The swimming pool was in excellent condition and was very welcome as the temperature in March can be in the 30C. The game drives were very rewarding and we saw the big 5 on our first day. A highly recommended wildlife experience.