Thought you'd be interested in SANParks response (I emailed them before writing in the forum):
Thank you for taking the time to write to us about your concerns with regards to re-introducing lions into Karoo National Park. We take your concerns seriously and the response from the CE of SANParks, the Park Manager and Senior Section Ranger are as follows:
The Park Manager and Senior Section Ranger have responded as follows:
The decision to introduce lion or any larger predator into the park is firstly guided by our park management plan which states the reasons for the introduction of larger predators. As part of any large ecosystem all trophic levels should be balanced to allow for a successful food chain to develop. The only missing link in Karoo NP is larger predators. Karoo NP has small predators that can control smaller species of herbivores but no large predator exists in the park to control or prey on larger herbivore like hartebeest, eland, gemsbok etc. To allow for minimum interference in a system it is crucial to have all aspects of that system in place. That will prove to be a healthy system then. Lion did occur in the Central Karoo before in large numbers before, and our mandate is to re-introduce species that previously occurred in the area. Karoo NP, now at almost 90 000 ha, can now sustain large predators with ease due to its size. The introduction of lion was decided upon and was approved by the Board after all assessments and decision making processes were followed, as well as input from Wildlife Management Committee and scientists. The introduction of lion is not only a biodiversity benefit to the park but will also benefit tourism (although the decision is not based on this reason). Lion can only contribute to the wilderness effect of the park and will not detract any experience from visitors but will enhance their experience of Karoo NP. We can assure you that this decision has not been hastily made, but that assessments and research has been conducted by experts in this field for a number of years to ascertain the sustainability and impact of lions on the ecosystem in the Park.
SANParks CE, Dr David Mabunda’s has responded as follows:
Thank you for raising the matter on the introduction of lions into Karoo National Park. We have considered all the issues you are raising and we are satisfied that introducing lions in the park will not pose a threat to visitors and staff alike. We also do not intend to infringe on the freedom of visitors and their experience in the camp by fencing it with high fences that will cause visible impacts. The predator proof fence will be the most modern and invisible to the human eye. Lions have a natural fear for human beings, unless they are man-eaters, and will stay very far from human presence. The presence of predators has an ecological value to the antelope population and it’ll stop the need to cull or relocate them. Once the pride tastes kudu or springbok it will not view human beings as a meal. An incident of predator-human conflict will be an exception than the rule.
Be rest assured that you will still enjoy the Karoo experience like never before even with the introduction of lions.
As a valued client, we sincerely hope that you will continue to visit Karoo National Park and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Karoo landscapes and wildlife.
Regional Marketing Manager – Frontier Region
Addo Elephant * Mountain Zebra * Karoo * Camdeboo National Parks
SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL PARKS (SANParks)
Addo Elephant National Park
PO Box 52, Addo, 6105
Tel: +27 (0)42 233-8645
Fax: +27 (0)42 233-8643
" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; and http://www.sanparks.org
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- Experience your natural heritage - (some details removed for reasons of privacy)
Of course, I was under no illusion that lion would not be introduced to the KarooNP just because of little ol' me, but had to share my concern.
I am still concerned, and I will book a visit sometime after the lions are introduced and see how it all turns out. I must try to remember that the Karoo NP has recently been extended, which should make it easier to absorb a large predator.
I hope they will keep tabs on the Riverine Rabbit. I just have visions of lion cubs learning to hunt and enjoying some nice endangered morsels
and the Riverine Rabbit disappear from one of it’s last surviving locations.
I have nothing against lions, I just would not want a critically endangered species to cease to exist simply for the expediency of tourism.
I must remember, I have always been impressed by how SANParks have built their camps and managed to blend in with the environment in other SAN Parks, so this fence might indeed work. I guess we can do anything we put our minds to, in South Africa. Shall wait and see.
I just cannot see it in my mind’s eye.
I do hope it will all go as planned and that the Karoo NP continues to deliver scenic, serene, panoramic game, sky, nature and fossil watching for all visitors including myself and my family and friends (who are all concerned people).
I have asked the cheetah question, i.e. have cheetah been introduced to the Karoo NP? For that matter, was the Karoo a natural historic area that cheetah inhabited? Perhaps they did in the very remote past. I’d have thought it was good terrain for them. I would love to know the answer. Not a super predator as such, but should keep some springbuck in check.
(I'll share the answer when I get it)
It is commendable that the CE of SANParks, the Park Manager and Senior Section Ranger themselves replied and that is a very good reflection on how SANParks deals with concerns. It is most appreciated.
By the way, I googled John Varty and his work with tigers. Very laudable work he is doing. Tigers and leopard are my favourite big cats, albeit tigers are not endemic / indigenous. It is nice to know that I don't have to spend enormous amounts of money to visit India and be disappointed by non-sightings of tigers in the wild. Better to visit the "zoo" in the Karoo.
. Not that lion are not interesting and powerful animals, I've experienced that first hand in the wild, twice, and it is something to remember
, but I will always prefer the more secretive cats.
Well everyone, that was an interesting debate and brought up some viewpoints I had not thought of. Thank you for that. Do all keep well and hope you all have a great holiday, in our parks, I hope. Keep your eyes peeled
and enjoy the experience!