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Wildlife phone apps cause chaos in S.Africa’s Kruger Park

JOHANNESBURG, June 8, 2016 – Mobile telephone apps that track wildlife sightings in South Africa’s Kruger Park have caused a rise in road rage, road kills, and speeding as tourists rush to viewing spots, officials said Wednesday.

Logo photo courtesy of sanparks.touchwork.com

Logo photo courtesy of sanparks.touchwork.com

South African National Parks (SANParks) said it was exploring how to restrict use of the apps, saying that they ”induce an unhealthy sense of eagerness for visitors to break the rules”. The apps share information between tourists on where elephants, lions, leopards, and other animals have been found, allowing other users to drive quickly to the scene.

SANParks said that the apps ”resulted in an increased rate of lawlessness in the Parks including speeding, congestion at sightings, as well as road kills caused by guests rushing to and congregating around these sightings.” It said scores of visitors had complained that the apps ruined the experience of exploring the park and searching for wild animals living undisturbed in the bush.

Photo courtesy of sharksafaris.co.za

Photo courtesy of sharksafaris.co.za

 

”We are exploring legal mechanisms to curtail the use of sightings apps,” SANParks tourism executive Hapiloe Sello said. Kruger Park, which borders on Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is home to about 1,500 lions, 12,000 elephants, 2,500 buffalo, 1,000 leopards, and 5,000 rhinos as well as giraffe, zebra, and antelope. Poachers kill several hundred rhinos each year in the park for the supposed medicinal value of their horns.