Category Archives: Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park

Historically, the Cape Mountain Zebra occurred widely in the mountainous areas of what today is South Africa’s Eastern, Western and Northern Cape Provinces. With the settlement of Europeans in these areas, and the consequent increase in competition for grazing with their livestock as well as uncontrolled hunting, the numbers of the zebras started plummeting. With their plight finally brought to public awareness, the National Parks Board (today SANParks) proclaimed the farm Babylons Toren in the Cradock district the Mountain Zebra National Park in 1937. At 1,432 hectares in extent, the newly established Park was hopelessly too small, and the founding herd of 5 stallions and 1 mare entirely inadequate to save the species from certain doom, and by 1950 the world population of Cape Mountain Zebra had dwindled to only 91 animals, of which only 2 were in the national park that carried their name. That same year a local farmer donated 11 zebras to the park, but it was only in 1964 that the Park was expanded to 6,536 hectares with the addition of neighbouring properties. This proved very much to the zebras’ liking, and by 1969 the Park’s herd stood at 98 head and by 1978 had grown to 200. Today, the Mountain Zebra National Park protects around 500 of these beautiful animals, and several hundred more have been reintroduced to areas in their historic distribution range.

The Mountain Zebra National Park lies at the transitional zone between the arid western Karoo-scrublands and the moister, eastern grasslands, and protects a wide variety of habitats and landscapes within its borders. Given its amazing topographical diversity it should come as no surprise that over 700 plant species occur in the Park. With the future of the Cape Mountain Zebra secured, the focus of the Park could be shifted to biodiversity conservation, and with the help of wildlife artist David Shepherd and several corporate sponsors, enough funds were collected to enlarge the Park to over 28,000 hectares, which allowed the introduction of several large game species – notably lion, cheetah, buffalo and black rhino – to their former haunts.

Sharing the Mountain Zebra National Park with its most celebrated inhabitants is 65 other kinds of mammals…

… and to date 257 bird species have been recorded in the Park.

There’s also a multitude of smaller, less noticeable animals in the Park, including 45 kinds of reptiles, 10 species of frogs, and giant 4m long earthworms!

In recent years, Mountain Zebra has become one of South Africa’s most popular national parks, and recently the number of accommodation units at the Park’s rest camp (which also boasts a small shop, restaurant and swimming pool) had to be substantially increased to cater for the demand. Doornhoek Guest House is a historic homestead restored to its former glory and now converted to luxurious overnight accommodation in a secluded corner of the Wilgerboom River valley. There’s also a terrific camping site, two picnic sites, an extensive network of game-viewing roads, three 4×4 trails, a guided hiking trail and guided game drives available to visitors. A unique attraction at Mountain Zebra is the “cheetah tracking” where guests accompany researchers and rangers to find radio-collared cheetahs in their natural habitat.

Mountain Zebra National Park was the eighth and penultimate stop on our December 2017 tour through eight of South Africa’s national parks. It is located just outside the small town of Cradock, on the R61-road to Graaff-Reinet.

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What a trip it’s been!

Happy New Year to all our friends here at de Wets Wild! We hope that 2018 has lots of opportunities to explore the outdoors, for you as well as for us!

We have just arrived back home safely after another epic summer holiday in South Africa’s wild places. All in all we were away from home for 24 nights and traveled a total of 5,550km, exploring eight of this beautiful country’s National Parks.

The route for our epic December 2017 holidays

Of course we came back with literally thousands of photos, which we’ll be sharing here in the coming weeks. We tried to post a daily update as we went along – here’s a quick recap.

Care for a Caracal?

This morning here at Mountain Zebra National Park we had the amazing privilege of seeing one of South Africa’s most elusive creatures, the Caracal, out on the hunt.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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Ostrich Love in the Mountains

This morning we were treated to the spectacle of ostrich courtship and mating here at Mountain Zebra National Park.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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We’re at Mountain Zebra National Park now

Evening on the 27th of December 2017 finds us at Mountain Zebra National Park, where the battle to save the Cape Mountain Zebra from the brink of extinction was fought and won.

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If you enjoy de Wets Wild as much as we enjoy sharing our love for South Africa’s wild places and their denizens with you, please vote for us in the 2017 South African Blog Awards.

We’ve entered the categories for “Best Travel Blog” and “Best Environmental Blog”, and you are allowed to vote for us in both. Clicking on the badge below will bring you to the voting site. After voting, you’ll receive an e-mail requiring you to click on a link to confirm your votes.

Thank you very much for your support!

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Mountain Zebra National Park

A rising star with humble beginnings.

The Mountain Zebra National Park had an inauspicious start. Proclaimed in 1937 near the small town of Cradock to protect the then critically endangered Cape Mountain Zebra, the reserve covered only 1,712 hectares and contained only 6 individual animals of its most precious charges.

Gradually the park was expanded, with much public support, and today the Mountain Zebra National Park is a grand showcase spanning across 28,412 hectares of scenic plains and rugged mountains. Located at the interface between the arid Karoo and the central grasslands, the Park is home to at least 680 plant species which in turn provide habitat and sustenance to a myriad of faunal life.

Here, the Cape Mountain Zebra was saved from the brink of extinction and today the Park houses almost 500 individuals, with thousands more now occurring in other National Parks, numerous state-owned reserves and on private land across their former range.

The Park is now large enough to accommodate many other large, charismatic mammals and visitors have an excellent chance of spotting cheetah, black rhino and buffalo among the other natural denizens of South Africa’s central plains – animals like the black wildebeest and blesbok (both species themselves having been virtually wiped out by the early 1900’s), springbok, red hartebeest, eland, kudu and gemsbok and birds such as the ostrich and blue crane.

The South African National Parks provide accommodation and camping in a picturesque rest camp in the centre of the Park while the Doornhoek Guest House, exclusively located some distance further, provides a luxurious alternative to the standard accommodation fare. This Victorian farmstead has been meticulously restored, is a national monument and has been tastefully furnished with all the modern conveniences while retaining its old world charm thanks to the antique period pieces used to decorate both the interior and farmyard.

In recent times the Mountain Zebra National Park has been growing in popularity, and deservedly so. Park management have introduced a number of unique guided activities, such as cheetah tracking and visits to San rock art sites. Spend a few days at “Bergkwagga” (the Afrikaans name for the Mountain Zebra) and it will be a firm favourite for you too!