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 Post subject: SanParks Website Annual Report
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:30 pm 
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Honorary Virtual Ranger
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
One year www.sanparks.org
This weekend marks the first anniversary of the website, so let's have a look at developments during the past year.

Visitors
The website went online on 27 november 2004 at 16:00 hours.
By December visitor numbers had grown to an average of 2067 visitors per day, which is very good for a recently launched site. The amount of visitors sky-rocketed, and averages about 10.000 visitors a day at present.

A visual of the growth:
Image

The webcam
Obviously the webcam attracts a lot of visitors. The webcam page is the best viewed page on the site and many sites refer to it. A year ago, the webcam was at a different location, with quite a different view:

Image Image

Image Image
The last pic was posted by Bwana, who was the first one to figure out how to post photo's.

However that location presented unique problems:
Kruger wrote:
Unfortunately we have to close the overflow of water from the cement crib outside view into the natural waterhole you are used to. Large numbers of animals are visiting the natural waterhole at the moment (because of this overflow and presence of water) and this action is causing a lot of erosion which is not acceptable. The closure of the waterflow (which is pumped) to the natural waterhole, will cause the natural waterhole in view to dry up, except when it is filled by rain in future.

On 28 September 2005 this resulted in the cam being relocated.
Image Image
This location has already given us very good sightings, much better than the old location, but small animals proved difficult to identify as the cam was placed a bit far from the waterhole. No trouble for SANParks staff, they complied with the requests and relocated the camera.

The website
The site hasn't been stagnant either, with enhancements added frequently and sometimes unnoticed. Because of the enormous amount of visitors, the web server had to be upgraded after nearly going down. It is working fine now.
So much has been added to the contents of the site that the list becomes endless. To name but two, for those that haven't noticed; introduction videos for the main parks and available camp maps have been added.

The forum
A lot of the visitors to the site visit the forums. And boy, do they post! Currently there have been 94.000 posts in about 5000 topics as well as 25.000 PM's. Some 40.000 posts have thus far been kept for the information they carry, which is quite a lot.
This was more than expected, so moderators were introduced, chosen from the more active members. These moderators are expected to clean up the forums and keep it the friendly place it's been so far. They also pass on requests and suggestions from members to the SANParks personnel.

Some organisation of the forums was needed, so with Admin's assistance new forums were created as soon as requested, resulting in Chit-Chat, Member Activities and Wildlife Photography Enthusiasts among others.
Not only the forums were (re)arranged, members united to arrange special projects too. Some projects include new binoculars and bird books for two well-known Kruger staff members, several member meets, a system recognition system for members visiting the Parks(the famous Yellow Ribbon) and of course the donations towards the new webcams. The second webcam will be placed at Satara, and has been paid for by forum members or -visitors. After many, many ideas and long discussions forum T-shirts, designed by forum members have been produced.

Besides all these time consuming activities, loads of helpful tips and advice has been given; descriptions of camps and roads have been posted, people got help planning their iteneraries and delicious recipes were shared.

Recent sightings which almost come in realtime have resulted in changed bookings as well as us almost knowing the names of the animals. Not only that, forumites that were in the Park have been directed to kills reported in that topic.

Three Bricks for Africa have been bought by forum members which will be laid at the Eco-Centre site which is located just inside the western boundary of Kruger, a little over one kilometre south of the new Phabeni Gate. That topic is not closed yet, you can find it here if you want to help My Acre of Africa build an Endowment Fund which will ensure the conservation of Southern Africa's unique and beautiful wild life and wild lands far into the future.

Changing people
One thing that has changed people a lot is the talk about birding, be it identification requests, or just talk about rare birds like the Narina Trogon.
Suddenly people started buying birding books, going to Parks or even the garden to seek out birds to tick off their lists. Even people who hardly noticed birds before got involved.
Bags containing lunch and laptops suddenly became very heavy as maps and bird, plant, tree, spoor and invertebrates identification books were added for use at work...

Fun
Not all forum content is deadly serious though. Most certainly not! We had great fun discussing springbok in Kruger and tinned skilpaadjies to name but two. Because of the Springbok and Skilpaadjies all Males became Musketeers and all females became Angels. Thank you SANParks for allowing that!
The fairly recently created forum called Quizzes is a downright hit, and lots can be learned from there as well. (Bring your books and maps!)

Frequently Asked Questions
The most popular question is without doubt "How do I post a pic?", so a little tutorial was written.
However other questions were often asked as well, like driving from Joburg to Kruger, what to wear, etc. So we wrote a FAQ (Surprising Admin with that one :D ), which has proved useful to a lot of people by the looks of it. It has been viewed nearly 6000 times, making it the best read topic on the forum.

Impact on SANParks
No conclusive statistics are available, but staff is convinced that the website has had an enormous impact on their operations. The number of unnecessary "No, sir, not available for that weekend." kind of calls has decreased dramatically and the number of calls from informed users who know what they want, has increased dramatically.
The number of new bookings has risen by 12% in August, September and October 2005, compared to the same period in 2004.

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Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


Last edited by DuQues on Wed May 17, 2006 4:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 8:05 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Venetia, Limpopo
Very interesting synopsis. Many parks can benefit from a similar system to this then.

Nice one,
w


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:21 pm 
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Yes indeed, I think all concerned are due a well earned pat on the back and to those forumites who have won awards, congratulations are the order of the day. :clap:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2005 5:45 am 
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Location: Saffa in the Caribbean
Thanks DQ. As a fairly new user on the site, it's been nice to get the whole story in one post. And wow, what a lot has been achieved.

I still maintain that this is one of sanparks best marketing resources, and they have a full-on, full-time sales team without having to pay salaries.

Thanks to the moderators, sanparks and members for making this a fun, informative, easily accessible and valuable resource. The mix is just right!


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 7:33 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Location: meandering between senility and menopause
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Thank you to all who have played a role.
I heard about the forum from the "Kruger Forum". I bought the paper in order to deal with my growing addiction. It was love at first site.
Like most relationships, there have been moments of distance, ... but, what a special place.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 7:58 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Sir Lowry's Pass
Thanks DQ.

Amazing! All this in one year! :thumbs_up:

Thank you to all involved. It is great now to know what happened from the beginning. Glad to be part of such a great Forum :clap:

Pitty I never found the forum sooner!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 9:25 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks DQ :thumbs_up: For us who joined the Forum more than one year after its inception, it's great to read how everything got started :P

CurtisDillon wrote:
Pitty I never found the forum sooner!


Ditto :cry:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:28 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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Award: Birder of the Year (2013)
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
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Location: Chasing down the rarities
LittleLeopard wrote:

CurtisDillon wrote:
Pitty I never found the forum sooner!


Ditto :cry:


Well like good ole Oom KleinPiet "Viervoet" Liebenberg used to say to Draadkar de Lange at the cafee on the corner. Rather late than never. :wink:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 6:27 pm 
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Happy Birthday Kruger Forum :bday:

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 Post subject: Year Report
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:53 am 
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Location: Red sand, why do I keep thinking of red sand?
The second year http://www.sanparks.org
Time flies, and the second year the site is in the air has already passed. So time for a little flight through the past year.

Visitors to the site and forum
At the end of the last year there was an average of about 10.000 visitors a day. This has fluctuated a bit, with a high of almost 19.000 in January, but still averages around 10.000 per day. Per month they view about 2¼ million pages of which the forum pages are the most viewed, followed by the Gallery and availability.
The amount of visitors was more than the server could bear, resulting in frequent outages, and in February, a complete servercrash. A backup had to be restored, and the website was transferred to a larger server, which seems to be holding up very well.

The website
The site hasn't been stagnant either, with enhancements added frequently and sometimes unnoticed. Because of the enormous amount of visitors, the web server had to be upgraded after nearly going down. It is working fine now.
So much has been added to the contents of the site that the list becomes endless. To name but two, for those that haven't noticed; introduction videos for the main parks and available camp maps have been added. On average 40 stories a month are added to the website. The site has seen the addition of numerous new 'mini site' like that of the honorary rangers, social science pages, Kruger scientific pages, the restaurant and new pages for the site (history here, activities there etc.) are added all the time, on average 4 a day. The the TMNP and Addo sites were completely transfered to the SANParks CMS (Content Management System, the system that takes care of the styles etc.) The real time booking system is under developement and may be up by the end of the year. We're also hosting nice projects like the writing competition and Objective Duke, as well as surveys using the new tool admin has developed.
All accommodation types have been photographed and published online, except for Kgalagadi and the majority of the Kruger camps.

The forum
The community is still growing rapidly, partially due to the required registration for the Satara Webcam, but also due to the fact that many people bump into the forum looking for information. The forum community has grown from 1,602 members in December 2005 to almost 8000 today. Many of them ask for information, or to help out with their itinerary. Luckily this also results in them turning in trip reports and photo's. The trip reports have been combined into one forum, Trip Reports From All SANParks, where at the moment some 350 reports reside, many with very good photo's.
This meant a lot of work for the moderators, so the team was expanded to 7 people. Unfortunately Wildtuinman has decided to resign, so we are back to 6 people, however we now also have a Web Content Editor, who jointed the E-Commerce team in April 2006, Dianne. She handled the writing competition and other major initiatives that have been conducted/covered online, along with daily updates of news and events from all SANParks
On the Parks side we got a few members that received the Guru-status. Some are volunteers working in the Parks, others are SANParks personel. Two of them really made an impact on the forums, Jannie Kriel, head of the guiding department in the Kgalagadi, and Stephen Nel, at the time hospitality manager in Biyamiti.
Both are very active on the forums, though Stephen accepted a position in Berg en Dal and has been too busy to post after that. The information and help they gave on the forums certainly made an impact on both the forums, and on the bookings in their areas. That certainly is visible, but more on that later.
The forum also asked for, and received, a way to donate money towards several projects within the Parks. One has been realised, the Satara webcam came online in February. The Satara Webcam target amount (R15,290.00) was reached on 21 October 2005. All of this was raised by the forumites. It has been on the air most of the time which the Orpen cam unfortunately is not. The facilities in Orpen were upgraded, and the construction work damaged the cable to the webcam several times. It was taken offline and will be replaced with a camera like the one in Satara.
One project got a lot of sponsoring in a completely new way, The Search for Duke enticed bets from forumites which are donated towards the Cybertracker Programme. Even though Duke was not found the forumites decided to donate the bets towards that project anyway and a total of R12.410,00 was raised, enough for two Cybertracker units!

Impact on SANParks
From Tourism point of view the movement has been positive in the past 12 months and we wish to think that the web has been instrumental in achieving this.
Unit Occupancy
The average unit occupancy for the six months was 73,6% (last year 70,0%) comprising 61,3% (last year 55,0%) for Park Division and 78,7% (last year 75,6%) for Kruger Division.

Top Five Parks
Position Park Occupancy (6 months - end Sept.)
1 Kgalagadi 84,9%
2 Addo 79,5%
3 Kruger 78,7%
4 Marakele 66,1%
5 Augrabies 63,6%

Top Five Camps
Position Camp Occupancy (6 months - end Sept.)
1 Biyamiti 96,3%
2 Kieliekrankie 95,6%
3 Urikaruus 94,9%
4 Balule 94,1%
5 Talamati 93,7%

Camping
Over collective six month period camping is still firmly up from previous year by 16,4%. In the case of Parks Division, camping is up firmly 36,5%, while Kruger Division increased by 9,2% person-nights.

Activities
For 12 months under review, September overall activity figures are up by 17,2% compared to previous year. Kruger activities were up 4,2% and Parks up strongly by 69,8%.

_________________
Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:20 am 
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Wow DQ

Great report thanks. I'd like to thank everyone who make this great site possible and especially the mods who do this as a labour of love and ensure that it is a great, friendly site to visit. The best forum on the net :!:


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:25 am 
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Really enjoyed the report - thanks, DQ! :D

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:41 am 
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Txs for the input
Looks like a new Kgalagadi camp should be needed in the future

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 8:58 am 
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Thanks DQ. You reminded of some great things I had already forgotten. It was a great day when I interviewed admin for the post. The passion, drive and vision is still all there and now we have added another firebrand to the team. The ideas on that diannet's head are just mind blogging. I think I should start feeling that my status as the 'ideas man' is being threatened :evil: here, but I am too busy enjoying this energy to even notice :D . I just love it!!!

Thanks to all the forum members for making this site what it is today :thumbs_up: Your suggestions have been great and fell on fertile ground.

And the mods - what can I say? You guys rock!!! Thank you for sacrificing all your time and energy to give us all such a great space to visit whenever we want a fix of the wild.

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South African National Parks (SANParks)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:29 am 
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:clap: :clap: :clap:
a round of applause for all those who have worked so hard to make this the success story it is.

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