Park cracks whip at 'beastly ways'

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

A massive campaign to uphold rules and regulations has been launched in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in an attempt to bring wrongdoers to book during this festive season.

This is what KNP managing executive Bandile Mkhize said following complaints about rule breakers from staff members, guests and feedback facilities.

"We have received many complaints about rule breakers from staff members, guests and the feedback facilities on our website over the past few months and have now come up with a strategy for the festive season, which we hope will make a difference," said Mkhize.

Called Operation Sledgehammer, the campaign is expected to see maximum effort by KNP Protection Services, KNP Ranger Corps and the South African Police Service from now until January 2 in an attempt to make a difference.

Roadblocks will be set up at strategic places in the park, which will target offences such as entering the park without paying, driving without a licence, vehicle roadworthiness, stolen vehicles, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving after stipulated gate hours and other related offences.

"We urge visitors to plan their journey and game drives carefully, leaving enough time to arrive at camps or entrance gates. To adhere to the stipulated gate times as recorded on maps, permits and signs at the camps," said Mkhize.

The KNP traffic officers will also be out in force during this period and will show no mercy to anyone not obeying the 50kmh on tar and 40kmh on gravel speed restrictions throughout the park's 3000km road network.

People caught littering and feeding animals will also be fined as both these offences can cause huge damage to the environment.

"Littering is not only ugly but can injure or poison wild animals if they ingest foreign objects made of plastic, glass or tin.

KNP officials have also noticed an increased tendency to feed animals in camps, through camp fences and at picnic sites.

"Animals that are fed start to view humans as a source of food and can become aggressive as a result of this," said Mkhize.

"We receive hundreds of photographs every year from concerned visitors to the park which show people protruding or even climbing out of their vehicles to entertain animals.

"And, when there is enough information provided, our law enforcement officers and customer service staff follow these up with admission of guilt fines and-or warning letters," added Mkhize.

Mkhize said KNP rangers have noticed a tendency by visitors to drive with vehicle doors open, people popping out of vehicle sunroofs and, disturbingly, increasing cases where animals were disturbed by hooting or other actions, all of which are serious offences.