Hot-air balloons drifting above the Kruger National Park’s (KNP) wilderness will – for the time being – not be a feature of the park, according to its revised draft management plan, now open for public comment on the South African National Parks’ website.
This and microlight aircraft were two of the myriad suggestions recorded in the stakeholder participation report to the revised park management plan.
And while both may have their proponents, it doesn’t take a Wilbur Smith to figure out the headlines if an aircraft with tourists came down in a park filled with predators.
Other suggestions included clay pigeon shooting, elephant rides and more golf courses – none of which will be happening.
According to the report, 3 465 stakeholders took part in the 2017 meetings, which provided the strategic direction for the KNP for the next 10 years.
In 2018, 2 297 stakeholders attended the second round of public meetings during which the draft management plan was presented. More than 483 inputs were received during the meetings and in written format.
One suggestion was to attract more people to the park by catering for the less affluent.
“All the developments are for the rich; no wonder it is said that the KNP and many other national parks only cater for the rich and therefore it is or may not be wrong to poach or steal from the area,” was one report.
Another issue was the open safari vehicles (OSV), steadily building a reputation for needing to be first everywhere.
“These … race from one Big Five sighting to the next, chalking up and generating their tipping service. OSVs should be controlled and limited. OSVs seem to expect preferential treatment at entrance gates … queues are to be followed, no jumping of queues allowed,” wrote a stakeholder.
Park management was also cautioned against over-commercialising the park.
The park is 1 919 430ha in size; of this 3 564ha is declared but not managed due to the biophysical location of the land parcels and 2 538ha is undeclared as a result of land swaps.