Media Release: Laying Down the Law in KNP
A massive campaign to uphold the rules and regulations has been launched in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in an attempt to bring rule-breakers to book during the festive season.
“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 the KNP’s Managing Executive Dr Bandile Mkhize.
Called Operation Sledgehammer, the campaign will see maximum effort by KNP Protection Services, KNP Ranger Corps and the South African Police Service (SAPS) from now until January 2, 2007 in an attempt to make a difference.
Roadblocks will be put up at various strategic places all over the park which will specifically target offences like illegally entering the park without paying, driver’s licences, roadworthiness of vehicles, stolen vehicles, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving around after 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 and to adhere to the gate times as recorded on maps, permits, signs at the camps,” added Dr Mkhize.
The KNP Traffic Officers will also be out in force during this period and will show no mercy to anyone not obeying the 50km/h on tar and 40km/h on gravel speed restrictions in place throughout the park’s 3 000km road network.
People caught littering and feeding animals will also be fined heavily during this period 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 of feeding animals in camps, through camp fences and at picnic sites. Animals that are fed start to associate humans as a source of food and can become dangerous as a result of this.
“We receive hundreds of photographs every year from concerned visitors to the park which show people protruding or even climbing out of their vehicles 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 Dr Mkhize.
If anyone is caught doing this by any KNP official, they can expect no mercy and will certainly be fined. KNP Rangers have noticed that there is a tendency to drive around with vehicle doors open, people’s bodies protruding from vehicle’s sunroofs and, disturbingly, an increasing amount of cases where animals are disturbed with hooting, noises or other actions, all of which are serious offences.
KNP officials have also found that many motorists choose to drive off the surface of the road or down roads clearly marked with “No Entry” signs and this is also an offence that could lead to a fine being given to that driver.
Noise is another concern that has been highlighted on numerous occasions and KNP law enforcement officers and camp officials will pay particular attention to those people who insist on making excessive noise at all times, be that with their vehicles’ sound systems or other sources.
“With the clamp down on noise and driving under the influence of alcohol, we realise that people visit the park to enjoy themselves but would like to stress that excessive use of alcohol can make it unpleasant for other visitors as it often leads to bad behaviour. We therefore ask people to be responsible about their liquor intake and to ensure that they do not make excessive noise that might disturb others,” said Dr Mkhize.
Visitors to the KNP can continue to help law enforcers by reporting these and other incidents to the KNP Emergency Call Centre (013 735 4325).
“We want to make it clear to everyone that the rules and regulations of the KNP apply to everyone, visitors and staff members alike, and hopefully this campaign will prove that we are serious when we say that the rules and regulations must be respected,” concluded Dr Mkhize.