The introduction of mobile apps for wildlife sightings – designed to share information on interesting animal sightings in Kruger National Park – has become a major cause for concern for South African National Parks (SANParks).
The rise in the use of these applications has resulted in an increased rate of lawlessness in the parks, including speeding, congestion at sightings as well as road kills caused by guests rushing to and congregating around these sightings.
This is according to SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development & Marketing, Hapiloe Sello, who said SANParks has been inundated with scores of customer complaints emanating from the use of these mobile applications.
According to Sello, since the arrival of mobile apps for wildlife sightings, authorities have received a considerable increase in reports of speeding cases, road kills, and road rage incidents at sightings. “As an organisation, we appreciate the fact that technology has evolved and that guests are taking advantage of it. However, this compromises the values of good game viewing in national parks.”
She said, “SANParks holds a leading position globally in the conservation of biodiversity and the management of eco-tourism; it would therefore be regrettable for SANParks to turn a blind eye to trends that reverse the gains made in these fields.”
“Most guests appreciate the leisurely drive through the parks and the potential reward of a good sighting as a key element of the visitor experience. This is an experience that SANParks commits to protecting, and therefore, the usage of these mobile applications is in direct contradiction to the ethos of responsible tourism espoused by SANParks.”
“We at SANParks discourage the use of these mobile applications as they tend to induce an unhealthy sense of eagerness for visitors to break the rules and we are exploring legal mechanisms to curtail the use of sightings apps,” concludes Sello.
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