SANParks' decision to curtail the use of apps in the Kruger National Park has sparked controversy among park enthusiasts. Some say the apps contribute to animals being killed through speeding, and a more congested and rushed game viewing experience.Other are of the opinion that SANParks' statement is futile, as it is impossible to police. They also say the apps do more good than bad in terms of overall conservation. Following these debates, Nadav Ossendryver, founder of Latest Sightings, one of the largest and most successful apps used in the park, has issued a formal response to the situation.
"A lot has been said in the news today about Wildlife Sighting Apps and Social Media and we want to add our voice to the discussion.
We love wildlife, we love tourists enjoying wildlife and we love working with researchers and in conservation. In 2011 we built a sightings app so that more people would enjoy more wildlife, by seeing more animals. The community of tourists and wildlife lovers grew beyond anything we ever expected. And with it, we discovered the good that social media communities can do with the education about wildlife, collaboration together with rangers and researchers to protect wildlife and with the bringing of more tourists to our shores to see wildlife.
Latest Sightings community members have been instrumental in saving wildlife. The community works with various organisations that dedicate their time to researching and saving wildlife. Our newest involvement is the Predators Project in the Greater Kruger
and some others are the Wild Dog Project
, Martial Eagle Project
, Ground Hornbill Project
, Project Rhino KZN
/Operation Game Change
to protect rhinos, and when animals are snared or injured by poachers, the sightings community has helped rangers to find them. Latest Sightings Links its Community to SANParks Rangers and SANParks Vets and Wild Dog ResearchersPredators Project use of Latest Sightings' Data
Every morning, the rules of the park are posted, encouraging safe driving and courtesy at sightings. The rules also specifiy that app users should not report rhino sightings due to the poaching of rhinos in the parks.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world engage with South African wildlife every day on our Youtube channel raising the profile of SA as a tourism destination. Tourists who visit and choose to use our app (iPhone/iPad and Android), get to see more animals, and once home extend their wildlife experience by checking the app to see what others are seeing and what they’re missing out on. Social Media is the mouthpiece of today’s world. Happy, engaged tourists share on social media, visit again, and bring their friends. Wildlife apps are good for South Africa.
We deeply respect what SANParks does for wildlife and for South Africa. The tremendous benefits of sightings apps and social media to wildlife and tourism should not be discounted. If in fact there are unforeseen consequences of their use, we would like to work with SANParks to solve the problem. Attempting to ban Wildlife Apps and social media is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Sightings Apps help research, help conservation, and enrich people’s wildlife experience by deepening, connection, education, and sharing the joy of the wild."As posted on the Latest Sighting blogWhat to read next on Traveller24:
- Wildlife sightings app restrictions to rely on 'sensible consideration' from visitors - SANParks
- SANParks to 'curtail use of wildlife apps' such as Latest Sightings
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