Tourist given life ban from South Africas Kruger National Park for drone flight

A day visitor recently left his vehicle to set up his vehicle to film animals at a waterhole. Never ceases to amaze me that one, there are real live lions and other animals that will ruin your day given half a chance, but lets park that thought.

In this case, other visitors took photos of the drone operator leaving his car and the car’s registration.

The South African Police force and park protection service were waiting at Phalaborwa Gate when they went to leave.

Ike Phaahla of the Kruger National Park explains, upon the arrival of his car at the gate, the vehicle was searched and a drone was in his possession.

“He explained that he did not go through his permit rules and was not aware of the ban on drones inside the park,” Phaahla said.

When the officials also asked why he was flying the drone in the park, his explanation was that he was trying to get wildlife visuals. Phaahla once again warned individuals against flying unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones, in the KNP after the incident.

“The flying of drones is illegal in national parks, as they are legislated protected areas with restricted airspace and therefore a no-fly zone for all unauthorised aircraft systems. Currently, the applicable legislation is the South African National Environmental Management Act’s (NEMA) Protected Areas Act, which prohibits the flying of any machine at less than 2 000 metres above any national park.

“Flying such aircraft, getting out of vehicles on undesignated areas, interfering in sightings, and disturbing and stalking animals is illegal within the park and will bear consequences. We would like to inform wrongdoers 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 seized,” said Phaahla.

 

The Kruger National Park banned drones in 2014

PROHIBITION OF DRONES IN THE KNP

South African National Parks (SANParks) would like to warn individuals against flying of unmanned aerial vehicles (such as drones) either for game viewing, filming, photography or any other purposes during their visit/stay in any of the National Parks, particularly the Kruger National Park (KNP). This practice is illegal as National Parks are legislated protected areas with restricted airspace, therefore a no-fly zone for all unauthorized aircraft systems.

“We have had two incidents reported by tourists in the KNP recently of people flying such aircraft illegally, getting out of vehicles on undesignated areas, interfering in sightings; disturbing and stalking animals; only to feign innocence upon questioning. We would like to inform 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 seized”, 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. The NEMA Protected Areas Act states that “it is illegal to fly below 2,500 feet above the highest point of any national park, including the KNP, with any aircraft/drone without the express permission of the Management Authority of the particular National Park i.e. SANParks.

“These kinds of incidents can negatively impact on the wellbeing of animals as well as the experience of other visitors. We would like to specifically thank the guests, who reported one of the incidents to the nearest camp. We would also like to encourage all law abiding citizens to report such incidents to the Emergency Call Centre numbers 013 735 5516/076 801 9679 so that these people can be caught in the act”, concluded Mabasa.

… Ends

Issued by:
Communications & Marketing Department – Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4262, cell: 082 807 1441 or email: [email protected]

Enquiries either:
William Mabasa, General Manager: Communication & Marketing, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: [email protected] or

Reynold “Rey” Thakhuli, SANParks General Manager: PR, Media and Stakeholder Relations. Tel: 012 426 5203; Cell: 073 373 4999; Email: [email protected]