UPDATE: Kruger to implement new ID control access

Cape Town - If you're eligible to vote, then you need to produce your ID document at SA's flagship national Park, Kruger.

"From 1 September 2017, all visitors who are 18 years old and above must produce positive identity document for scanning in order to gain access," says the KNP’s Managing Executive, Glenn Phillips

"For non-South African visitors, they must produce passports but South African driver’s licence will also be acceptable," says Phillips.  

SANParks announced it is implementing additional gate access control systems, set to start being enforced at its entrance gates in the southern part of the park. In March this year the park also implemented permit access on its southern gates to target what it calls ‘drop-offs’. 

SEE: Kruger tightens security to stop poachers entering park through gates as 'guests'

Since then guests who visit the KNP are expected to produce a permit, with the vehicle registration checked against the vehicle disk and the number of people in the vehicle checked against the permit, whether guests are staying for the day or overnight.

“We realised that the gates became our weakest point… Some of the poachers are paying at the gate as guests. For example, when they come in, there are four of them in a vehicle and on the way out, there is only the driver." 

Intensified fight against poaching 

Kruger is getting serious about monitoring people’s movement into and out of the park, with the new processes set to ensure that information related to any persons entering the park is centrally recorded and monitored.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) released an update on the status of rhino poaching in SA for the last two quarters in July, with data showing a slight decrease in poaching nationally. 

SEE: SA sees 'slight decrease' in rhino poaching in 2017

Covering the period January through March 2017, and then April through June 2017, a total of 529 rhino have been poached, compared to 542 in the same period for 2016, representing a decrease of 13 rhinos. 

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa confirmed 243 rhino carcasses were found in Kruger between January and the end of June 2017, compared to 354 in the same period in 2016, representing "a decrease of 34%".

'System applies to all, including staff' 

“The system will apply to everybody including SANParks staff members, suppliers and other residents of the Park and is expected to improve on our proactive surveillance, early warning and detection," says Phillips.

Phillips called for patience during the implementation process, with access to the park often resulting in lengthy queues to enter. This new process will no doubt add a measure of delays to gate access. However, as always Kruger guests are advised to make use of the online check-in process ahead of time - click here for full details.

Upgrades and refurbishments taking place at Kruger

Added to the gate access changes there are a number of refurbishments and upgrades taking place at Kruger.

Earlier in the year plans for a Radisson Blu Safari Resort put on hold due apparent logistical issues, but the development is said to still be on the cards.

Refurbishments to the Lower Sabie Rest Camp started in May of this year, Traveller24 has as SANParks for an update on the progress made. Added to this, the construction development of a 128-room Skukuza Safari Lodge is continuing. The lodge is expected to be completed in the final quarter of 2018, when the 3-star hotel and conference facility will be able to accommodate about 250 tourists per night, running at full capacity.

SEE: New R269.5m Skukuza Safari Lodge to open in Kruger in 2018

SANParks is also undergoing a review of its management plan processes, and recently called on the community to participate.

The overall review process is set to be completed by 2018 - and will provide the framework for the management of the Park within broader land use.  

At the time “25 opportunities for private investors to develop and manage accommodation in its parks, together with additional opportunities for activities, restaurants and retail facilities”.

SEE: How can you help protect Kruger National Park?

Hapiloe Sello, managing executive Tourism Development and Marketing at SANParks, said at the time that the accommodation opportunities included for Kruger were "unfenced tented camp in Nkuhlu, a low impact rustic camp in Parfuri and mobile tented camps and tree house camps".

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