New gate for KNP raises eyebrows: The news that a new Entrance Gate and Entertainment Hub, named Shangoni, is to be built in the Kruger National Park, has been met with mixed responses. The gate is planned for the North-West of the KNP, between Giyani and Malulele. Shangoni is a Venda word meaning ‘of or for the earth’. But certain stakeholders seem to think that none of this would benefit the Earth in any way, despite the name connotation.
Grave Concern about Tourist Entertainment Hub:
Most people are gravely concerned about the ‘entertainment’ and ‘fun park’ aspect of the new development. This section of the KNP has always seen less traffic than the busy South of the Park, and is regarded as a peaceful haven for wildlife and humans enjoying solitude. There is considerably less poaching in this quiet North-Western section as well, with most of the Rhinos being killed for their horns in the South of the Park.
With the recent killing of a Cheetah by a speeding motorist, it follows that increased traffic without increased law enforcement would lead to an escalation in traffic accidents. Specifically, a surge in the number of collisions with animals as a result of speeding and increased traffic, would impact the Wildlife in the Park negatively.
"There always has to be a balance between tourism, (and opening up that niche market to locals, many who’ve never been able to afford going into the Park), and income from Tourism. In this instance, the intent is to involve local residents in the tourism industry, and provide much-needed employment. In short, looking after Wildlife costs money, and Tourism generates funding. But generating funding should never be done to the detriment of the Wildlife", says Paul Oxton (CEO/Founder of Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation)
A long time coming:
The Limpopo Department of Economic Development and Tourism (LEDET) announced the plans to open the new gate and tourism activity hub at a recent tour of the Park with media outlets. The MEC Economic Development, Environment and Tourism in Limpopo, Thabo Mokone, said the two projects had long been on the books of the department and were now being implemented.
Arguably the most controversial statement of Mokone’s speech is the following phrase:
“We have taken a decision as government to claim the Kruger Park.”
Mokone said the activity hub would bolster the economy in Phalaborwa. “Phalaborwa town has been anchored by the mining industry so we want the tourism sector to be a secondary encore to develop the town into an epic tourism destination.”
“I’m particularly keen to kick-start these projects because they will create employment in the provincial economy. We can’t only rely on international tourists to come to visit us. We must also rely on ourselves to visit our own country. Charity begins at home.”
A squabble between the bordering communities over exactly where the gate would be opened has caused delays, but the engagement between LEDET, SANParks and the local Municipalities are now being fast-tracked, so that the matter can be resolved.
The aim is for this project to be completed by the end of 2022.
The Park currently has 11 entrance gates: Crocodile Bridge, Malelane, Numbi, Phabeni, Phabeni Border, Paul Kruger, Orpen, Phalaborwa, Punda Maria, Pafuri and Giriyondo.
The Kruger National Park is named after former president Paul Kruger. The Park is bigger than the country of Israel, and offers a wildlife experience ranked one of the best on the African continent. It boasts 19 623km² or nearly 2 million hectares of land that stretches for 352km, and contains hundreds of historical and archaeological sites.