SANParks Update 2008 Part 2

In the last issue we spoke to Chris Patton of SANParks and he gave us a list on the newer accessible initiatives within SANParks, in this issue we’ll continue with this and focus on requirements for guide dogs entering National Parks.

New accessible attractions in Kruger include the day visitor centre at Letaba, with two accessible ablutions (one next to the kiosk, the other at the swimming pool); and the boardwalk linking the centre to the main camp across a tree laden creek.

SANParksThen there is Makhadzi Picnic Site on the road to the relatively new border crossing at Giriyondo leading to the Mozambican part of the Transfrontier Park. This charming picnic site is located on a stream and series of pools surrounded by riverine trees, which provide a welcome break from the surrounding Mopane woodland, and is usually abuzz with animals and birds. The location is also of historic significance and a museum in memory of the establishment of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and the early pioneers in the area, notably the outfit known as Steinacker’s Horse, is well worth exploring. The museum is on stilts as it floods in heavy rainfall but, like the site’s wheelchair ablutions, comes with sweeping ramps.

SANParksAddo Main Camp in Addo Elephant National Park is another recommended venue. The camp now has 5 accessible units (with 2 more in Matyholweni Camp), and a new underground hide overlooking a waterhole, in  addition  to the camp’s accessible trail, bird hide and lookout point. While the path to the hide is wheelchair friendly, the park management has been advised to remove one or two of the permanent seating benches that currently prevent a wheelchair user from getting right up to the viewing slot. We are confident the park will rectify this soon as they are proud of their accessibility status.

Remember you can read more about the access opportunities for the mobility impaired in the various National Parks on the SANParks website http://www.sanparks.org/groups/disabilities/general.php but if you are not on the internet, here are some of the travel hints which you would find on the website.

Travel Tips for people with disabilities

SANParksKruger Park is in a malaria area. There have been historical cases of malaria in one or two other parks, but this is an exception. While spraying of the Kruger camp facilities means that incidences are low, there is still a potential

risk. The late summer months (February to April) are the most vulnerable times. Visitors who take medication should check with their doctor to determine whether they can take certain prophylactics. Avoiding getting bitten is perhaps the best advice. Dawn and dusk are the most vulnerable times. People should avoid leaving areas of skin uncovered, particularly the ankles. Para and Quadriplegics who cannot feel the lower parts of their bodies should be particularly careful in monitoring bites. Liberal use of mosquito sprays and lotions and sleeping with burning coils or electrical pads is recommended.

Guide Dogs

SANParksApart from the obvious danger to pets by wild animals, domestic dogs and cats may carry certain pathogens that pose a serious disease risk to wild canids, felids, viverids and mustelids. For this reason, pets may not accompany visitors into National Parks and the official policy of SANParks has been to deny entrance of all pets into National Parks. Resident dogs belonging to staff in National Parks require compulsory vaccination, annual deworming, and must be confined to the owners’ premises, or accompanied bythe owner on any excursion outside of these confines. No domestic cats are allowed as pets in National Parks. Cats are notorious roamers and ill interbreed with the indigenous African Wild Cat and Black footed Cats.

Requirements for guide dogs entering National Parks

SANParksBlind and severely visually impaired persons frequently rely intensively on guide dogs for companionship and in dependence of movement, and very strong bonds develop in this relationship. SANParks management has sympathy with visually handicapped persons, and in order to accommodate and facilitate their visitation and enjoyment of National Parks, application for permission for guide dogs to accompany blind persons into National

Parks will be favourably considered. The entry and exit of the guide dog into / out of most National Parks will be covered by a permit issued by SANParks or Veterinary Wildlife Unit. For guide dogs entering the Kruger National Park, however, the permit should be obtained from the State Veterinarian, P O Box 12, Skukuza 1350. Tel. 013 735 5641; Fax 013 735 5155. Applications for other parks should be directed to the respective park manager.

In the interest of animal disease risk management, the following guidelines should be noted:

Timeous application for permission to bring a guide dog into a National Park must be made in order to facilitate the issuing of permits. Please note that access for guide dogs at Park entrance gates will be denied if there is no permit accompanying the dog.

The guide dog must also have a regular de-worming history, and must be de-wormed within 30 days prior to entering a National Park.

The guide dog must always be under the control of its handler or an accompanying person. The handler or accompanying persons must be equipped with a faecal removal device (poop scooper or plastic gloves / bags) to remove faecal matter in rest camps or picnic sites.

Timeous application for permission to bring a guide dog into a National Park must be made in order facilitate the issuing of permits. Please note that access for guide dogs at Park entrance gates will be denied if there is no permit accompanying the dog.

No guide dogs will be permitted at unfenced Wilderness Camps.

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