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Safari Vehicle Operators

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OSV Radios

Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:45 am

Penny wrote:I believe that the only safari vehicles who are entitled to a radio is the official Sanparks safarii vehicles who are conducting drives after dark when it is absolutely essential that they be able to summon help.

It is the old adage that there will always be people who spoil things for others. In this case years of abuse of radios to speed to sightings has now got everyone's dander up. As I have said previously when the safari vehicles outnumber those of the public at a sighting then you know you have a problem.

If I have guests in my microbus in KNP then surely I am just as responsible for their safety as a safari vehicle driver is for his guests. That is why we inform guests in our vehicle that they may not alight from the vehicle other than designated areas etc. If we were not responsibly minded then there would be a lot more incidents.

I think the use of the radio needs to be put into perspective as it is NOT being used to summon help but to allow drivers to speed from one sighting to another.

What I also find quite interesting is that Sanparks is mum on this topic right now and it would be really super to know that they are taking on board what the public are saying and that something constructive is going to be done about a worsening situation.

Dear Penny

Many thanks for your inputs, as always.
We have certainly been monitoring the public's opinion on all matters and I always forward these to the relevant authorities (largely thanks to the tireless efforts of the Moderators!).
The issue of radios for the OSVs has been an issue of contention ever since OSVs were first allowed into the KNP during the mid-1990s (long before my time, I must point out).
There are many SANParks officials that believe they should be banned outright but then (technically speaking) all communication tools (including cell phones and small 2-way radios) would in effect be banned.
It would then be a case of where to draw the line and the OSV industry has often pleaded their case for radios in the KNP OSV forum.
These regulations are stipulated in the Service Level Agreement between the KNP and each operator and we can certainly tackle the OSV operator on this if necessary.
Like ANY KNP regulation, if you see an OSV guide using his radio in a disturbing manner, you are more welcome to report this to us (remember, the more incidents we can quote at the OSV forum, the more power we have ...).

Penny, I certainly apologise if I have been "mum" on this (or any other issue for that matter) and if you think there is some issue that needs my attention, you are more than welcome to PM me and I will look into it for you.

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman
Kruger National Park
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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:49 am

That makes a lot of sense KNP Spokesman ... if they bann 2 way radios then they might as well bann cellphones etc ...

And as mentioned previously the best thing to do would be to report any bad behaviour by the "Jockey's" AND other tourists to the Park ..

Thank you for the feedback KNPSM .. :thumbs_up:

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Unread postby Obelix » Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:13 am

W@H, I tend to disagree. There's a huge difference between banning two way radios and banning cell phones. Banning the first would put a stop to speeding by the safari vehicles, banning the second would make no difference.

As far as I know, cell phone reception in KNP is limited largely to the areas around some (all?) of the camps. A safari vehicle operator is not going to hang around camp, with his cellphone in his hand (I can just imagine how impressed his clients are going to be), waiting for a potential call from another safari vehicle who is hanging around close to another camp, with news of a special sighting.

Same applies to the small hand-held two way radios KNP Spokesman referred to. Those radios are not strong enough to be abused in this way. In any event, IMHO it is not the public but the safari vehicle operators that abuse the radios.

In the end the question is simple: Would the banning of two-way radios put an end (or at least leads to a dramatic decline) in speeding by the safari vehicles? The answer IMHO is simply yes. Banning cell phones / small two-way radios is different.

In any event, thanks for the response KNP Spokesman.

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Unread postby Fizzpop » Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:39 pm

Penny wrote:.... Somehow KNP spokesman has very neatly sidestepped the issue and although his postin is interesting in its response it does not come anywhere near tackling the grave issues that we the loyal Kruger Park goers are relating.....

I Totally agree with LL, Obelix and Penny.

The radio issue is what in terms of the OSVs?
A tool to find more sightings, increase their revenues,
and more revenue for SANPS.
It would be easy to just make it to use in an emergency only?
Never going to happen though - Why? Because More MONEY to the KNP.
I agree that there seems to be bigger economic issues at play here, and perhaps we will never get the "real reason" why open radios on OSV cannot be be banned.
To try to equate Radios with Cell Phones is simplistic. We are not morons! But as usual, we "Joe Public" are treated as such by the Powers that be! To say if we ban the Radios we must Ban Cell Phones... HELLO, who makes the Rules in the Park? SANPS or the OSV operators. Come on!

When OSVs were first allowed into the park, they did not have "open channel"radios, if i remember correctly, but only to use in an emergency.They and their passengers survived, and i dont recall anyone getting lost or eaten in that period!
Much political lobbying was done by the operators, who were, tragically allowed the right to use open channel radios in the KNP.

To sit at a sighting and get overpowered by squelching radios and uncontrolled visitors on OSVs is not fun... and really, if you want us to police the situation and report offenders... I will with Vigor! But the, for my effort, and others, i want to be allowed to attend a meeting between all role players (as a public representative), and be allowed to make my opinion heard at these meetings...

Do a census of people visiting the park... us the general public as to why and if OSVs should be allowed to operate they way they do iro radios and discourteous behaviour.
I think it is time to see a investigative program done on this sensitive issue, on 50/50 or whatever.
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Efficient market penalties

Unread postby Schoemanskloof » Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:20 am

I am an avid Kruger-ian, but now live in San Diego, USA.
I return to Kruger as often as I can, and enjoy it while there.

In following this forum/thread, I believe that Kruger is being excoriated for not doing anything material. It may be true, but I do believe that they are interested in the success and continuation of the Park, at least as much as we all do. To be blunt, the Park is not static, but instead grows/changes. As the Park changes, so must its means of operating, managing, and being. It is also a business.

I believe that repeated identification, with subsequent impartial investigation, of the individuals will help alleviate the symptoms mentioned here. Each vehicle should have the guide's ID visible (front, back and sides), and should be checked at the gates (and randomly by all employees, if needed). After 3 (or some number) of validated infractions, that individual would be barred from all Parks, on either business or pleasure. Also, that person's employer will be penalized, maybe with later entrance to the Park, or simply with escalating fines (ending with a complete ban and also public listing of the company, owner, and previous name's of the company tied to the current name - the taxing authorities must have access to this information).

If people believe that reporting/cataloging the individual and the infraction is overly burdensome, then impose a reward. Not for the reporting, but for the validated outcome. In fact, also apply a penalty for repeated false reports to avoid the "witch-hunt" problem; have the penalty be similar, something like later entrance to the Park, or 6-month ban (just an example). If you only ever report/document real infractions, there is never a charge. But if you do have a history of false accusations (with no basis, proof, etc), then you are fined and your name published. The penalty for this needs not restrict appropriate reporting, but does need to restrict in-appropriate reporting.

In short, the penalty for all the parties involved (individual operator, OSV, and reporter) should be strong enough to enforce truthful, valid reporting of infractions, or valid actions within the Park.

To provide the incentive for the Park to pursue these investigations, it should also "profit" from pursuing the investigations: it should be paid by the employee's company.

Another idea might be to notify the passengers that they will pay the Park if their guide/jockey breaks the rules. Make each OSV, as part of the SLA (Service Level Agreement), contractually involve the visitor and educate them on the rules (along with the reason for the rules). If they control the Guide (either by with-holding tips until the end or by reporting to the Company) then the problem is solved. They can be told to watch the speedometer, listen for the radio, and any other Park-decided rule. The guide breaks the rule to please the guests; if they dis-please the guests, they would pay the price, both by not receiving tips and also by having their "boss" told by un-happy passengers. Maybe the guests have to pay if their guide breaks the rules and they do not report it (so they would only pay if both instances occurred: first, someone else reported it (and it was duly investigated/validated), AND the guests did not report it). This would then solve the problem of the guide denying it: outside parties, and the guests agree that the guide broke some rule.

Personally, I would love to see no more radios, but I am realistic. Allow the radio to be in the car, but penalize those who do not use it as a tool to solve emergencies. Require GPS as part of the SLA, but allow for appeals why the GPS tracked abnormal speeds. Make the penalties worthwhile, both to those who would pay, and to those who would receive payment.

I look forward to your comments.

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Badly behaving OSVs

Unread postby KNP Spokesman » Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:35 pm

Hi Forumites

Many thanks for everyone's feedback on this issue. I find the accounts of actual incidents very useful - and shocking, by the way - and ask (plead) that the registration number of the vehicle seen committing the offence is included in the account as then we can really take action against the offending OSV according to their Service Level Agreement.

Just so that you know how the Service Level Agreement is written, the following short points that you might find interesting:

* 3.1.4 "Decals of the operator have to be placed on both front doors and reasonably visible and legible for persons in passing vehicles" - the reason why we stipulate this is for the very reason that everyone is reporting on this thread - SO THAT MISDEMEANORS CAN BE REPORTED.
* Section 5.1 deals with "special undertakings" with the sub-heading "The Operator undertakes to operate its safari vehicle business in the Park in the most abundant faith and shall ..."
5.1.1 - provide an excellent level of service;
5.1.3 - promote the good name of SANParks and its facilities at all times;
5.1.5 - show courtesy towards other road users especially when viewing game;
5.1.6 - refrain from using radios to inform other vehicles of game viewing information of any nature.
* Full compliance with the rules and regulations of the KNP.
* 7.2 says: "Should SANParks receive regular complaints against the operator regarding the operating of the safari vehicle business as described in clause 5.1 in any year, it shall constitute a breach of this agreement by the operator and ... SANParks shall be entitled to terminate this agreement forthwith."
* 7.3 basically repeats this provision mentioned in 7.2, except that it mentions the rules and regulations of the KNP.

(I have included what I thought was relevant to this discussion but if you feel you would like to peruse the rest of the document, you are more than welcome to visit me in my office in Skukuza and I'll show it to you. Just PM me to make an appointment ...)

So what this basically means is that YOU certainly have the power to not only stop bad behaviour of the OSVs, but potentially throw them out of the KNP if that behaviour persists.

Way forward: What I suggest here, therefore, is that you send your accounts of these incidents (please remember to include the exact time/date/place/vehicle registration/OSV company name etc) to the KNP HOD Tourism, Ms Lucy Nhlapo at email:

Lastly, I apologise if I "side-stepped" the issue but this certainly wasn't the intention. I was under the impression that everyone knew that they are welcome to report ANY bad behaviour of ANY KNP user.

Kind regards
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Kruger National Park

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Open Safari Vehicle Operators and Field Guides

Unread postby vthebushman » Sat Apr 08, 2006 10:35 am

To all fellow forum members, my name is Wynand du Toit and I am the General Manager for Untamed Africa and Safaris. I am a registered and qualified field guide with FGASA and THETA and have several years experience as a field guide. I have read the comments on the behaviour of the guides and the vehicle operators and want to sincerely apologise on behalve of my company and guides. You are quite correct in stating that action must be taken against the culprits and I would appreciate any comments directed to me. My email address is and I would welcome any correspondence. I am also a member of the Lowveld South FGASA Commitee and we represent most of the field guides operating South of Satara Rest Camp. I have also noticed that the atmosphere and relationships between the public and the field guides have changed over the past few years and am distressed by this. We have instituted an in-house training program at Untamed Safaris and we are addressing these concerns. I would welcome all and any feedback. We are also concerned about the opinion of the public regarding this industry and we would like to better the image of the open safari vehicles and their guides. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns and suggestions. All our vehicles have been equipped with Satellite Tracking systems and our guides have been instructed not to use the 2 way radios to call in sightings, but only for use in emergencies.

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Unread postby Elsa » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:10 pm

vthebushman wrote: We have instructed our guides to only communicate on the long range channel and currently are in the process of removing the vehicle to vehicle channel.

Thanks verymuch for your response Wynand and may I add my welcome as well.
I am sure this will go a long way in improving the situation, and ultimately the pleasure of all visitors to our Parks, which after all is what we all want. :D
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Re: Open Safari Vehicle Operators and Field Guides

Unread postby madach » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:21 pm

Jumbo wrote:
gwendolen wrote:
gwendolen wrote:Raise the guides' salaries so that they don't have to depend on tips? :?

I still think this is the best solution in the long run. Well trained guides that are well paid will give their guests a wonderful experience, with or without lion and will no longer have the need to race around the park.

100% Gwen! :thumbs_up:
If you pay peanuts you get monkeys…. :twisted:

I'm sorry guys but I don't agree with you. Who ever said that you get big tips if you race from one big 5 sighting to another. If you do that you're not a guide but a taxi driver. A good guide will interest his guest in the complete ecosystem and not just the big 5. The best drives I've ever done where with guides that explain things about the trees, grasses, animals and the way they interact. That's what guiding is all about, but that requires some formal training....and that's what's a fair number of the safari vehicle drivers have not had. They don't know any better than to drive from sighting to sighting because they don't have a clue what to talk about when they don't see animals. A fair portion of SANP personnel that do night drives suffer from the same lack of general knowledge (or general disinterest).


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Field Guides

Unread postby vthebushman » Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:09 pm

Thank you to all for the positive feedback on the forum, i just know that things will improve and we will be able to resolve all issues. Just as a background on Untamed Africa, we are fortunate enough to be the largest safari operator in the Kruger with a fleet of 30 new Land Rover Game Viewers and we employ just short of 130 people. All our guides have a minimum of THETA NQF 2 qualification and some even have a FGASA Level 1 qualification. We have now started with a program whereby we encourage them to qualify with FGASA and they then receive an increase based on this qualification. We have formed a training academy endorsed by FGASA and accredited by THETA. Our head lecturer is Stuart Thomas, a FGASA Level 3 SKS DA qualified guide with experience in the private game reserve industry. We have received various comments from people calling us "Untrained Africa" etc and this usually comes from employees and owners of the other safari operators. We do not share a radio channel with them.
As for FGASA and their management, they have a huge task in front of them and they need all our support, I communicate with Brian on a near daily basis and have always only received good advice. The best solution to all the havoc in the Park is to discipline the guide breaking the rules, and this will set an example to the other guides, but this must be done in a structured way. The field guides are all also over worked, my guides work a maximum of 4 days a week and every 2 months receive a 6 day long break whereas some of the other guides work up to 28 days a month. We have also dropped the prices on the safaris to allow the South African public the safari experience, I was shocked to see that South Africans where charged onwards of R 790.00 per person. If any of you are in the area of Numbi Gate, feel free to pop in and visit us.

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Safari Operators

Unread postby Dirk.V.E. Neethling » Thu May 25, 2006 5:25 pm

I am n Jeepjoky and I love every min of it!! :D So I will try to comment on same off the concerns that the public have on the Open vehicles as n Guide and not n operator.

I find that n lot of the people blame most of the speeding and traffic jams of safari vehicles to the uses of Radios. Yes you are all correct to say that thy are the reason but not in the way the public thinks. As Wyand said that thy as Untamed Safaris don't have the other operator channels thy cant communicate with others, is the reason for this. Thy are not the only ones as there are lot of company's that cant communicate with one another. Now here is were the problem starts. Let me explain.

On n busy morning at gate X several safari company's pick up different groups of clients at the gate .What you have now is 6,7,8...different company's with leads to about 25 vehicles. Half of these company's can't communicate with each other, 15km from the gate is n pride of lion because no one can communicate you start finding that these vehicles starts pulling up and before you can say lion you have 15 safari vehicles and 20 private vehicles at the sighting. Dew to this every body try to get to the sighting first before the others reason being that the pride of lion will have had n noth of all the vehicles and move off. If all these company's had the same channels the guides could have told the others to hang back because of congestive at the sighting. 4 Years ago all these company's had the same channels and the responsible guide could control them self at these sightings and wait a bit till the first 3 vehicles moved off and the next 3 moved in. Now it is in possible because you don't now where the other vehicles have gone.

Taking away the radios wont solve the problem but only make it worse as there are some of us that will stay away from traffic jams as we also don't like it. Rather get all the operators to get the same channels and let them set out n rule to restrict the safari vehicles to only 3 or 4 vehicles. But now what about the private people and there vehicles? How can you control them? Should the park look at more roads to lessen the impact on the existing roads as the number of visitors to park in the last 5years have almost doubled(Rather than closing roads like the 3De loop along the Sabie river from Skukuza to Lower Sabie because the private concession got n Birdie hide there a gross the river)? Let gate controllers make people more a were of the rules off the road like in the old Days

Yes I do agree that their are speeding by some off these Guides (not the Company as they don't now what there guides are up to and that is why taking reg.,time, place, and company name and report it to the relevant company of these speeding) but don't groom every body under the same brush.
We as guides are also fed up with these rule breakers but most of the guides are freelance and are they scared that they wont get work if they complain about others. These Guides give all off us n bad name and we are trying to get rid of them it is not always easy.

Am working for Safaris direct as a permanent employed guide and do get n reasonable good Salary. My tips only make up about 1/5 of my salary if i had n good month. Believe me that if you show your people to much they don't a preshehate it and they don't tip you. I always ask my company to in form tourist to tip us if they happy with there service as some nations don't tip in there country's as it is all ready work in the service they get there thinking it is the same here( Like Australians, Italians,French,Spanish and a lot more tan you guys now......South Africans 90% of them don't tip :twisted: :twisted: ).The Guides you see speeding have either started guiding or still haven't learnt that people don't always worry about how much you have seen but rather how good of n guide you was

And for those of you that Have comments on the leopard attack at Nsemani dam first get the fact's and then think before you comment :cry: . if you want to now email me i was there!!!!!( Just to give you figures 5 Open vehicles and 30+ private cars Blocking every body in)

Waiting for reply's and would gladly reply back

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Unread postby Bearded One » Fri May 26, 2006 12:02 pm

To The SANParks Forum From: Thompsons Indaba Safaris, Hazyview
In Defence Of The Open Vehicle Operators

For some time we have been following this site with a mixture of excitement, amusement, sorrow and downright anger.

1. Most OSV guides are very hardworking and long-suffering men and women spending many hours behind the steering wheel trying to find game and educate our largely overseas clients in some small way, a sometimes thankless and frustrating task, as many overseas clients have been educated by National Geographic and Wildlife movies and expect to see in one game drive, the kind of sightings that the moviemakers could have spent years filming.
2. Most OSV guides are THETA registered as well as FGASA qualified to SANPARKS required standards, including Public Driving Permits, which have to be renewed every two years. The Park authorities hold regular inspections on guides and their vehicles to ensure that the standards are upheld, we legal operators are very pleased that these checks are in place. Having said this there are a few rotten apples in every barrel but I can assure you however that EVERY REPUTABLE operator will not operate with unregistered guides and vehicles. I don’t know if the public is aware that an unregistered guide caught driving clients will be fined R5000 personally and the company employing the guide will be fined R10000 and also be banned from the Park. No reputable operator will take this risk.
3. Yes sometimes under pressure to find game from impatient clients an inexperienced guide may speed, we are all human. Our guides see many badly behaved private vehicles, buses, mini buses and official vehicles on a daily basis that we could fill a very large book with complaints of our own. Hats off to all those wonderful visitors who actually are there for the love of the Park & all of its’ wildlife.
4. Blocking sightings, this does sometimes happen if there are a lot of vehicles near popular, roads, clients would like a decent photograph however most OSV operators do NOT have time to sit at a sighting for a long time and will have to move on, unlike some private vehicles who have been observed at good sightings for hours, hogging the best views. We do however teach our guides to be considerate of other tourists and limit the amount of time they spend at a sighting (sometimes to the annoyance of our own clients!).
5. Radios, yes we use radios and so do many members of the public in their private vehicle convoys. Please remember that the various companies have their own private channels which they sometimes share with other OSV companies, the radios contrary to popular belief are NOT just used to report game sightings, they are used for administrative purposes, e.g. a large group of tourists might be on game drive with two or three different OSV companies, the radios are used to co-ordinate the groups movements with regard to meals, drop off and pick up times etc etc. Radios are also used for emergencies which include breakdowns, reporting of fires, injured animals, snares, poachers, refugees etc. Many operators such as ourselves insist that the guides use earphones to cut down on annoying background radio noise.
6. The Kruger Park now experiences record numbers of tourists, especially since the introduction of the wild card, but there are no new tourist roads in the busy south of the Park which does led to congestion around the camps and at good (Big 5) sightings. The size of the OSV vehicles and their height often enables them to see over normal cars, which makes other tourists envious.
7. The private OSV industry brings in many millions of rands to the Kruger and helps in some cases to reduce the numbers of vehicles on the road in the Park i.e. 10 clients on one OSV is better than another 3-4 cars entering. Four OSV carrying 40 clients split up around the Park makes less impact than one 40 seater coach roaring up and down the main tar roads.
8. The demographics of the OSV industry has changed dramatically since its pioneering days in 1996, in those distant days 95% of guides were white males, today it is more like 50%. Our company employs 10 guides full time, 8 of them are from PDI communities. Other companies such as Untamed Africa in fact have about 95% of their guides coming from local communities. So the OSV community by and large are playing their part in the new SA and do not deserve these largely unwarranted attacks.
9. We do continuous on-going training of all guides, however as I said before all the poor old guides are also humans, not robots. We hold regular guides meetings which focus on the Kruger Park and its' rules & regulations.
10. Guides who consistently break the rules in reputable companies will lose their jobs and I can assure you will find it difficult to get another job.

Thanks to SANParks for all their hard work trying to preserve this African Eden.

I have now covered my head with a steel helmet in anticipation of a storm of you know what coming down on me!! You are welcome to send your complaints to me by e-mail or by fax 013 737 7403. I can assure you that I will investigate each one thoroughly. Please try to include the registration number of the offending vehicle as well as the date and place so that I can speak to the person responsible. All of our vehicles also have a vehicle number on the side i.e. T1, T2 etc., so if you don’t manage to get the registration number, that will also help.


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