WORLD SCIENTISTS ASSEMBLE IN THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The Kruger National Park (KNP) will host multitude of scientists and researchers from around the world at the 16th annual Savanna Science Network Meeting which will take place on 05 -09 March 2018 at the Nombolo Mdhluli Conference Centre in Skukuza. The meeting will host about 200 delegates representing 85 different institutions from most continents.
The programme will explore about 123 presentations covering a wide range of topics and research conducted in all Savanna National Parks and Protected Areas. “The Science Network Meeting provides an opportunity for scientists to share their latest research findings conducted in national parks and other conservation areas within the savanna biome. This includes numerous research projects from conservation areas mostly within South Africa (with Kruger National Park the best represented), but also drawing in relevant research and understanding from other savanna protected areas across the globe, including Australia, South America, USA and Asia”, commented the GM: Communications & Marketing, William Mabasa.
The conference is also an important forum for dialogue and debate about ecological science and conservation matters; and a pivotal point for future research collaborations. This year, a morning session designed around topics chosen by SANParks ranger and management staff has been arranged to stimulate discussion between the managers and researchers.
KNP RANGERS RECEIVE TACTICAL BOOST
The Kruger National Park (KNP) received a donation worth R504 415.00 from NiteCore South Africa which is a small flashlights company consisting of rifle mountable tactical flashlights on Tuesday, 20 February 2018. This extensive donation is dedicated to assisting rangers during anti-poaching encounters and patrols at night, giving rangers tactical advantage. The combination of dedicated ranger and quality equipment proves a formidable force to contend environmental crimes such as Rhino poaching.
This donation comes with a 5 years warranty from NiteCore International, flashlights with any defects will be replaced under the warranty. In addition to this gratis NightCore South Africa is in the process of collecting all tactical flashlights currently being used by Kruger National Park Rangers for repairs and maintenance before handing them back for enhanced performance, consequently extending tactical flashlight support to more rangers in the Kruger National Park. “We have taken the time and put in the effort to investigate, on ground level, just how much of a difference the use of our high-end flashlights is making in anti-poaching operations, especially the fight against rhino poaching which has been at the forefront of the battle for many years now. Kruger National Park has previously purchased some of our equipment and have been using it in the field for quite some time. The feedback that we received was overwhelming, and it is yet again proven that proper equipment in these types of circumstances is absolutely critical. The word tactical superiority comes to mind, and that is exactly what we wish for our ranger forces to be.” said Louise Mathews.
The donation was kindly received by the Kruger National Park Rangers and Mr Mbongeni Tukela, Manager: Area Integrity and Mission Area Management, Kruger National Park. He expressed heartfelt gratitude to the donors Louise and Celesti Mathews, owners of NiteCore South Africa on behalf of Ranger Services and Kruger National Park Management.
This practice is prohibited in terms of NEMA Protected Areas Act which states that “it is illegal to fly below 2,500 feet above the highest point of any national park, with any aircraft/drone without the express permission of the Management Authority of the particular National Park” i.e. SANParks; and therefore they are legislated protected areas with restricted airspace, which make them no-fly zone for all unauthorized aircraft systems. “In a joint operation recently, South African Police Service and the Park’s Protection Services arrested a day visitor for illegally alighting out of a vehicle and flying a drone in the Kruger National Park. We would like to warn such people and other drone users that should they be found flying them in the Park at any time, they will be arrested on the spot and their equipment will be confiscated”, said KNP’s General Manager, Communications & Marketing, William Mabasa.
Not only is this a contravention of the NEMA Protected Areas Act, but there are also restrictions in terms of the aerial filming rights and therefore an infringement of SANParks’ filming/photography policy. “Flying such aircraft illegally in the Park can negatively impact on the wellbeing of animals as well as the experience of other visitors; to such an extent that it can end up disturbing and stalking animals. We would like to thank the guests who reported the recent incident to the nearest Section Ranger. We encourage all law abiding citizens to continue to report such incidents to the Emergency Call Centre numbers 013 735 4064/013 735 0197/076 801 9679 so that these people can be caught in the act”, concluded Mabasa.
Guests are hereby informed that Shingwedzi Rest camp is experiencing a shortage of leaded and unleaded fuel; this is due to the underground tank maintenance that is currently taking place from today, 06 November 2017 until further notice.
Guests are advised to fill up their petrol tanks in other camps before proceeding to Shingwedzi Rest Camp. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
Whilst the mandate of SANParks is to conserve biodiversity, the rise in visitor numbers has created challenges which need to be addressed.
One of these challenges is the increased traffic congestion in the South of the Park experienced on certain days of the year (most notably on public holidays, long weekends and school holidays), particularly at the entrance gates and at wildlife sightings.
SANParks has partnered with the University of Queensland in Australia to investigate potential solutions for a range of traffic-related problems in Kruger. As part of the research process, SANParks will engage in open discussions with various stakeholders of the Park.
Together with the researchers, the Park has identified 9 different stakeholder groups from which we will gather ideas and suggestions for solutions.
These include: Camping overnight visitors; Non-camping overnight visitors; Tour operators; Self-drive day visitors; Managers of large tourist accommodation establishments in close vicinity of the Park who host guests that enter KNP as day visitors (either on OSV’s or private vehicles); SANParks Honorary Rangers; OSV guides; Senior staff of the KNP Management team; and relevant Taxi Associations.
A randomly selected sample of overnight and day visitors have been invited by email to participate as we can only accommodate a maximum of 20 per group, however, we have a few seats left and would like to give you an opportunity to RSVP.
The focus group discussions will then be followed up with a quantitative approach (survey) to gain consensus on which solutions are preferred.
The results will be communicated to SANParks Management to guide their decision making in drafting vehicle traffic management interventions.
Today marks a month since the introduction of the new pack of 8 Wild Dogs into the Kruger National Park. The release of the pack came after a considerable period of observation of the wild dogs in the Boma before the release on 16 September 2017.
The day of the release was a success, the pack followed the bait that was dragged out of the gate making it seem natural. A lone female had been visiting the Boma where the pack was kept for observation frequently despite being chased away a few times; the pack has since accepted the lone female, she has since been seen guiding the new back around their new home.
The pack of 9 wild dogs incisive of the lone female has managed to stay together. According to satellite locations from satellite collars fitted onto two wild dogs, the pack was discovered in the vicinity of Red Rocks, Shingwedzi Rest Camp before heading downstream to towards Dipeni and then southwards along the border towards Kotsini.
The pack seems to be in a good health status apart from a few minor temporary limps that are most likely due to thorns. They feed regularly, they were spotted killing two female nyalas in front of Shingwedzi Rest Camp on 20 September 2017.
The progress so far is good, further observations are necessary before a concrete conclusion can be made on the integration.
Management would like to caution visitors coming to the Park to take the necessary precautionary measures against Malaria disease.
“We would like to advise visitors to the Park to take precautionary measures in order to prevent the possibility of developing Malaria whilst visiting the Park. Precautions which include the use of prophylaxes, vaccinations in consultation with doctors and to avoid exposing the skin whilst outside in the evenings can assist a great deal in this regard. KNP is known to be one of the Malaria endemic areas in this country and therefore chances of catching Malaria disease always exist in this area though not often,” said the GM: Communications and Marketing, William Mabasa.
To reduce the risk of Malaria whilst staying in the Park, visitors are further advised to use repellants on the skin, wear long sleeve clothes if they happen to go outside of their units, keep the window gauzes and doors closed at all times and check that these are not broken, as well as to ensure that air conditioners in the chalets are fully functional.
Mabasa also noted that “although Malaria can be contracted at any time of the year the Malaria season in this country is October to April, with March and April being the highest risk period. We request visitors who contract Malaria after having visited the Park to assist us, by immediately reporting to our local doctors in Skukuza as this can assist in recording and identifying all the affected areas in need of attention”.
There are resident medical doctors permanently based in Skukuza, Kruger National Park’s main camp and the public can consult them for information and advice prior to their visit to the Park on telephone number +27 13 735 5638. More information on Malaria can also be found on website link https://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/tourism/malaria.php
Visit the SANParks, Kruger National Park stand at the Phalaborwa Gate Parking for more information on Kruger tourism products and offers from today, 19 - 22 September 2017.
We are already interacting, see you there!
Masthulele passes on at an estimated age of 49 and 50 years. This bulls name was very appropriate as he lived up to the ‘quiet one’ reputation by being seldom seen, he had only been photographed twice at the time of naming. The first two series of photographs of this bull were both taken from a helicopter during the elephant censuses in 2003 and 2004.
In January 2016 with the last confirmed sighting of Masthulele was in the Kingfisherspruit section of the Kruger National Park during his annual pilgrimage to the Timbavati. Efforts by rangers and guests to sight this magnificent bull were ongoing but he remained unseen, a carcass had not been discovered; we hoped that he was still with us
A carcass found in late 2016 in the Letaba section between Giriyondo and Letaba raised suspicions that perhaps Masthulele had been found as this was his regular stomping ground in autumn and spring. Given the decomposition level of the carcass, a positive ID could not be made at the time.
Images of the ivory were taken and unfortunately, no definitive answer could be given as the presence of a break under the left tusk and a short grass notch raised doubt this was Masthulele as neither of these features were visible in the footage of him on file.
An impressive weight and length of the ivory was received from Ivory stores for this ivory which kept suspicions active it could be him; With Masthulele still not being sighted in early 2017 and additional high-resolution images being received of later sightings that showed a subtle change in his ivory towards his final sighting, the decision was taken to arrange a security visit to the Ivory stores with numerous high resolution images taken from different angles to assess if characteristic markings could be found. It is due to security reason this visit could only be arranged for August 2017.
The carcass site was investigated and no foul play is suspected. It felt that the cause of death was a bull fight.
We are exactly 18 days to the SA National Parks Week, Kruger National Park will open its gates to South African citizens for free. The Day Visitor Quota will apply for the duration of the SA National Parks Week.
Please be mindful of the additional gate access control systems at its entrance gates in the Southern part of the Park. As 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. South African driver’s licence will also be acceptable.