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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mokala National Park, South Africa -"Where Endangered Species Roam..."

Officially declared in June 2007, Mokala is South Africa ’s newest national park. Situated approximately 80km south-southwest of Kimberley, and west of the N12 freeway to Cape Town, Mokala is nestled in the hills with a landscape that boasts a variety of koppieveld (hills) and large open plains.

The isolated dolerite hills give the place a calming feeling of seclusion. A big surprise awaits when you pass through the hills and are confronted by the large open sandy plains towards the north and west of the Park. Drainage lines from the hills form little tributaries that run into the plains and drain into the Riet River.

Mokala is a Setswana name for a Camel Thorn (Kameeldoring). These trees occur in dry woodland and arid, sandy areas and are one of the major tree species of the desert regions of Southern Africa. This immensely important species has a great range over the Northern Cape and varies from a small, spiny shrub barely 2m high, to a tree up to 16m tall with a wide, spreading crown.

The Camel Thorn is an incredible resource to both wildlife and humans who survive in often harsh conditions characteristic of this area. Traditionally, the gum and bark have been used by local tribes to treat coughs, colds and nosebleeds. Some even use the roasted seeds as a coffee substitute.

Moving a Park

‘It’s been a mammoth process to move all the animals and ready the land for the creation of a new national park,’ say’s park manager Deon Joubert. ‘We had to complete the operation of moving 863 animals – including buffalo, black rhino, white rhino, red hartebeest, tsessebe, gemsbok, eland, zebra and roan antelope (pictured) – from Vaalbos to the new park by October 2006 because it becomes too hot after that.’

Vaalbos was renowned for its large active breeding herds of roan antelope. At Mokala rare and valuable species breeding projects are in the pipeline for roan antelope, sable antelope and pale-rump zebra.

This is especially significant for roan as these magnificent antelope are mysteriously declining in numbers over much of their ranges. The new park, which has about 170 of these animals, now has one of the largest populations in South Africa.


Mokala was the winner in the Parks and Nature Reserves category of the 2008 Welcome Awards at an awards ceremony held at South Africa’s premier tourism showcase, INDABA in Durban recently.

The Welcome Awards were founded four years ago with the express intention of improving service levels in the tourism sector. The judging process includes pre-arranged visits and interviews by the Welcome Awards project team, as well as mystery visits by trained individuals posing as customers. Winners are chosen based on the value they add to customer expectations; on their commitment to excellence in serving customers; and on exceeding visitor expectations.

Mokala National Park

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