Cape Town - Following multiple inquiries from dog owners and extensive research and surveys done by the Garden Route National Park, new areas for walking dogs on the beach in Wilderness have officially been rezoned by the park.
The park agreed to "meet dog owners half way" in an attempt to make the park accessible and enjoyable for all.
The zones have been outlined in a guideline, comprising of a brochure as well as visible signage, published by the Park for walking dogs in designated areas of the Park.
The rules and regulations for the dog walking can be downloaded here.
Signage will be erected during the first week of March, with rezoned areas and brochures distributed first in Wilderness.
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There is also the prospect of rolling our the rezoned dog-friendly areas to adjacent areas.
According to main Marine Ranger for Wilderness, Jonathan Britton, the "zones are currently applicable in the Wilderness Beach but the colour-coded system will be rolled out to Sedgefield as well in phases".
How it works
The simplified version of the guideline is colour-coded, with each colour representing a different rule.
The onus is on those walking dogs to abide by guidelines regulating this activity. This can be done through checking signage regularly that is posted along the beach and forestry areas.
These are dog-friendly beaches. Dogs, however, still need to be under the command of their humans and dog poo must picked up and binned.
"This is not a free for all zone, but the Code of Conduct for dog walking still applies," SANParks says.
Dogs are only permitted on leashes.
Dog owners in these zones are warned to be especially mindful of the endemic bird species in the area.
There has been a significant drop nationally in the population numbers of white-fronted plovers. The yellow zone was introduced after a survey was conducted for white-fronted plovers and found some breeding pairs as well as likely habitat around the popular entry points for dog walking.
"Dogs walking on a leash toward a green dog-friendly beach was the best comprise to improve the breeding potential and success of the local white-fronted plovers," SANParks says.
No dogs are permitted as these are either known important bird breeding areas or recreational beaches where beachgoers who prefer not to share their beach time with dogs have a place to visit as well.
"We believe that these zones strike a balance between protecting coastal bird breeding and habitat areas, dog walking and other recreational users" Britton says.
Why dogs are not allowed in other, un-designated areas of the Park
This is primarily to protect dogs from wild animals as dogs may become prey to predators or get attacked by other wild animals like baboons, especially in the forestry areas, SANParks says.
Dogs in the Park may also harass or kill plants and animals protected by the Park, and disturb birds during breeding seasons.
Birds like the African Oystercatcher, especially, are especially sensitive. The birds are threatened by disturbance and coastal development - the total population is less than 6 500 individuals.
Dogs can also carry diseases that might be harmful to the environment. "Domestic dogs and cats may carry certain pathogens that pose a serious disease risk to wild canids, felids, viverrids and mustelids," SANParks says.
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