Mobile apps that allows visitors to national parks to share information on exciting animal sightings are resulting in rude, lawless and dangerous behaviour that has led to road kills, according to South African National Parks (SANParks)… and legal channels are being sought to curtail the use of these apps.
In a press statement today, SANParks said the rise in the use of these applications has been matched by an increased rate of lawlessness in the Parks – particularly in the iconic Kruger – and has become a major source of concern.
SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development & Marketing, Hapiloe Sello, said SANParks has been inundated with customer complaints – ranging from the high congestion of vehicles to reports of tourists speeding, road kills and road rage incidents.
“As an organisation we appreciate the fact that technology has evolved and that guests are taking advantage of it, however this is compromising the values of good game viewing in national parks.”
She said SANParks holds a leading position globally in the conservation of bio-diversity 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.”
Many safari fans echoed this sentiment on Facebook this afternoon, agreeing that the true and more satisfying experience of visiting game parks is to find the animals oneself; and that many smaller yet also amazing animals and birdlife are being ignored in the quest to rush from one big sighting – which has become like a scrum – to the next.
“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,” said Sello.