South African National Parks (SANParks) teams met in Knysna on Wednesday (March 14) to revisit risks, threats and vulnerabilities to the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) and its visitors.
It is dubbed ‘Operation Reboot’, and input from the meeting will be fed into a national safety and security strategy led by Major-General, Johan Jooste.
During a site visit, Jooste said equipping rangers with fresher skills and strengthening alliances with other law enforcement authorities, formed part of the short- to medium-term interventions. There were other planned operational interventions, he said, adding: “We are making wildlife crime our core focus and we take it seriously.”
Despite suspects in a recent incident being apprehended by the South African Police Service (SAPS), SANParks continues to roll out security plans for its Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma sections of GRNP.
The Park includes water bodies, forests and fynbos areas spanning over 155 000 hectares. Park Manager of GRNP, Paddy Gordon said: “The open-access nature of the Park could make us vulnerable but we’re moving ahead with operational systems internally as well as externally. The Park is also fragmented with pockets of private land in between.”
In addition, SANParks continues to form part of the local policing forums in each town and works closely with SAPS, Mountain Rescue and Sea Rescue.