President Paul Kruger – Namesake of the Famous South African Game Reserve

Kruger National Park owes its name to Paul Kruger, who was the president of the Transvaal Republic (now in present day South Africa) from 1880 to 1900, after which he fled to Holland in exile in the midst of the Boer War.

In Dutch, the Transvaal Republic was officially called the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek, meaning the South African Republic – not to be confused with the current Republic of South Africa!

The republic was an independent Boer (which basically means “farmer” in Dutch) country from 1857-1902. It’s now part of present day South Africa.

President Kruger was affectionately known as Oom Paul, meaning Uncle Paul in Dutch and Afrikaans.

President KrugerDuring his presidency, Kruger was concerned about the rate at which wildlife was hunted and was worried that some species may even be hunted to extinction. He therefore proposed the need to protect the animals in 1884, although it took until 1898 to open the first game reserve.

This park was called the Sabie Game Reserve and was used for restricted hunting. It covered the area between Sabie and Crocodile Rivers in what is now the southern region of Kruger National Park.

Family Life

The president was born Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger on 10 October 1825 in what is now the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

He married Maria du Plessis in 1842, but Maria and their son died from fever.

He then married Gezina du Plessis, who was Maria’s cousin, in 1847. The Kruger family grew large with the birth of 7 daughters and 9 sons, although some died as babies.Kruger himself died on 14 July 1904 in Clarens, Switzerland, aged 78.


Paul Kruger Gate statueIn 1926, more than 20 years after Kruger’s death, Sabie Game Reserve, Shingwedzi Game Reserve plus some local farms were combined and renamed Kruger National Park.

Kruger Gate is one of the entrance points into Kruger National Park. There’s a statue of Kruger at the gate, which was unveiled in 1976, depicting him in his traditional image with beard.

The Krugerrand, a collector’s gold coin issued in South Africa, is also named after him and depicts his face on one side.