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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Addo Elephant National Park - South African Eastern Cape

Deep within the shadows of the dense valley bushveld of the Sundays River region of the Eastern Cape lies the Addo Elephant National Park. Here, the evenings are punctuated by the strident howl of the black-backed jackal, and the francolin's call heralds each new dawn. Safe from relentless persecution in the past, the grey leviathans of the bush now roam in peace.

The original Elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area - today this finely tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 450 elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. But the Addo story has only just begun. Plans to expand the 164 000 ha Addo National Elephant Park into a 360 000 ha mega-park are moving forward at an exciting pace. This expansion is transforming Addo into the ultimate tourism destination.

Some of its unique features already include:

Unrivalled natural diversity, with five of South Africa's seven major vegetation zones (biomes).

The Big 7 (Elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, whales and great white sharks) in their natural habitat.

Rich heritage of archaeological and historical sites.

A wide variety of accommodation and activity options.

In addition, plans include the proposed proclamation of a 120 000 ha (296 500 acre) marine reserve that includes islands that are home to the world's largest breeding populations of Cape gannets and second largest breeding population of African penguins.

5 Things To Seek:

* Elephant

* Black Rhinoceros

* Cape Buffalo (disease free)

* Suricate (Meerkat)

* Flightless Dung Beetle


Addo section:

The area is classified as semi-arid to arid, receiving an average rainfall of less than 445 mm per year. Rainfall is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, but there are two peaks, in February-March and October-November. Frost occurs at times in winter.


Daily max - Jan 32 °C July 18 °C Daily min - Jan 15 °C July 5 °C.

There is no natural water in this section of the park and all waterholes are fed by boreholes. There are a number of small pans in the area but these are dry except in years of exceptional rainfall.

Zuurberg section:

Height above sea level varies from 250 to 970 m. Mean annual rainfall approximately 722 mm. Peaks in rainfall in spring and autumn. Unlike other fynbos areas, the winter months are the driest. Thunderstorms occur in summer months when lightning fires can be caused.

Darlington section:

Climate: average rainfall 255 mm/yr. Max temp in summer reaches 48 C and min temp just above 0 C in winter. Rainfall is mostly in the form of thundershowers and an occasional cold front from the west.

Coastal section (Woody Cape):

The mean annual rainfall varies from 392 mm at Sundays River Mouth to 700 mm near Woody Cape. Boknes to Bushmans River Mouth is the transition zone from all year rainfall to summer rainfall. The dunefield occurs in a rain shadow which receives lower rainfall than both Port Elizabeth and Alexandria. Fog and mist are common, with frost being rare.

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