The Greater Addo Region
Addo lies in the beautiful Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The valley stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Zuurberg Mountains and is home to the legendary Addo elephants, as well as large citrus orchards. The Greater Addo area is world renowned for its citrus fruit production and is South Africa’s largest producer of citrus. The small citrus farming community of the Sundays River Valley, watched over by the Zuurberg Mountain Range is alive with citrus farms and an abundance of animal and bird life. Addo is a magnificently diverse area offering a wide variety of wildlife experiences, natural landscapes, outdoor adventure and cultural experiences.
Addo Elephant National Park
The Addo Elephant Park is also home to Cape Buffalo, Black Rhino, Lion, Leopard, a range of antelope species, the rare flightless dung beetle. The Addo Elephant Park is South Africa’s first ‘Big Seven’ nature reserve, with inclusion of the southern right whale and great white shark, after the park expansion to include offshore islands.
Hunting for ivory began seriously in the early 1700s. By the 1900s hunters had got rid of most of the remaining elephants and other game in the area. Only isolated herds remained – the largest of these in the Addo region, it being 140 elephants. Growth in agriculture in the region led to conflict with elephants as they damaged crops and competed with farmers’ needs for water. Local farmers put pressure on the government to exterminate the Addo elephants. In 1919 Major P.J. Pretorius was tasked to shoot the remaining Addo Elephants. He set up his camp in Kinkelbos. He used various methods while hunting, including a ladder to see over the thick Addo bush. He shot 114 elephants between 1919 and 1920. He also caught two elephant calves and sold them to Mr. Boswell for his circus. His activities generated publicity and sympathy for the elephants, prompting the halt of the killing when only 16 Addo Elephants remained.
In 1931 the Addo Elephant National Park (about 5 000 ha) was proclaimed when there were only eleven elephants left. The first Addo Park manager, Stephen Harold Trollope (a former Kruger National Park ranger), chased the elephants into the Addo Park area using shotguns, firecrackers and fires. The area was poorly fenced and the movement of Addo elephants continued to cause problems on surrounding Addo farmlands. Elephants were killed as a result of conflicts with farmers and collisions with trains.
In 1933, Trollope started supplying oranges, hay, pumpkins, lucerne and pineapples to elephants in order to keep them within the Addo Park boundaries, which was effective. Elephant numbers grew from 22 in 1954 to 100 in 1979. Today there are more than 550 elephants in the 1,640 km² Addo Elephant National Park.
In 1981, the first tourist drove through the Addo Elephant Park using a basic gravel road system in place.
The last of the remaining disease-free Cape buffalos were also protected by the establishment of the Addo Park, as well as the endemic flightless dung beetle (endemic to the area, not the Addo Elephant Park). Eland were introduced into the park in 1957 and Burchell’s Zebra and Warthog in 1996. The expansion of the Addo Elephant National Park into a ‘Greater Addo’ was first officially mentioned at the Open Africa Initiative in 1997.