The study calls for the vehicles to be removed form off-road protected areas due to its degradation on the soil and vegetation.
Strict legal measures should be applied to regulate 4x4 use in areas where the greenery is sensitive, and specifically wetland areas should be classified as absolute no-go areas according to Dr Gerhard Nortjé, a researcher in wildlife management at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Wildlife Management.
“While it may not seem that off-road driving has negative impacts on the environment, especially on the soil and vegetation, the risk of damage is real”, Nortjé told the media.
“It is not an ecologically sustainable practice and should therefore not be allowed.”
He said increased soil erosion, damage to vegetation and habitat destruction are just some of the visible negative impacts of this popular so-called “eco-tourism” activity.
Nortjé focused his research in the Makuleke Contractual Park in the Kruger National Park and argued that SANParks should reconsider its management strategies for off-road driving in protected areas altogether.
SANPark’s best practice guidelines currently recognises the potential of off-road driving to negatively impact natural resources, but does not explicitly refer to soil damage.