The Kruger National Park is going high-tech with its access control systems at its entrance gates‚ starting in the southern part of the park. From 1 September 2017‚ all visitors over the age of 18 must produce an identity document for scanning in order to gain access to the game reserve.
For non-South African visitors‚ they must produce passports but a South African driver’s licence will also be acceptable‚ the Sanparks said in a statement.
“The new system will assist with monitoring of people’s movement who enter and exit the park‚ and will ensure that information related to any persons entering the park is centrally recorded and monitored.”
Kruger park managing executive Glenn Phillips said the system will apply to everybody including SANParks staff members‚ suppliers and other residents of the park.
“(The new system) is expected to improve on our proactive surveillance‚ early warning and detection. In our quest to continue to enhance security for both wildlife and visitors‚ we will continue to make use of appropriate security technology‚” he added.
Visitors will still be required to go through their normal check-in or check-out at the gate receptions before proceeding to the security scanning process‚ the Kruger park statement said.
“We recognise that we have to keep a very fine balance between imposing potentially anti-tourist friendly security apparatus whilst also ensuring the protection of both tourists and wildlife. We request the public to be patient during these very necessary security processes‚” said Phillips.
Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa told a briefing in parliament last month that 529 rhino have been poached in South Africa since January‚ compared to 542 in the same period for 2016.
The Kruger National Park‚ which has “traditionally borne the brunt of poaching” has recorded a decrease of 34%‚ with 243 incidents recorded in the first half of the year‚ compared with 354 in the same period last year.
Molewa said that there also appeared to be an “emerging threat” as 30 elephants were poached in the Kruger park so far this year‚ compared with 46 elephant poaching incidents recorded for the whole of 2016.
The department says it is taking these incidents seriously and applying the lessons learned in rhino poaching to curb further threats to the South African elephant population.
Molewa said a total of 359 arrests of alleged poachers and traffickers had been made this year‚ 90 of these inside the Kruger National Park and 112 adjacent to the park.