Parks Beyond Borders: South Africa Warns Against "Fraudsters;" Thailand Park Tigers Under Threat?
Public Warned About Fraudsters at Kruger National Park
South African National Parks (SANParks) is warning the public that there seem to be people falsely claiming to represent the agency, particularly Kruger National Park (KNP).
A release from the agency said the “fraudsters” are operating online forums that claim to be gathering customer response and passing it on to the park, and also soliciting conservation funds that the groups say they also pass on to SANParks.
AllAfrica News said the sites wanted feedback on the parks, “for example, incidents or complaints concerning the National Parks, therefore complementing the organization's (the park’s) existing channels.”
Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park, Abe Sibiya, said, "It has come to our attention that there are online forums operating and claiming to represent the South African National Parks (SANParks), in particular the KNP by offering customer care facilities that discuss conservation and tourism related matters for guests."
"We would like to put it on record that SANParks already has its own established formal procedures and channels for handling guest feedback and does not need a third party to deal with issues on its behalf," he said. ALLAfrica said Sibiya was concerned “that these online operators also claimed on their forums, that they raise funds for various conservation causes which they hand over to the SANParks.”
SANParks “advises members of the public to resist any illegal fund raising approaches made in SANParks' name as we believe this action constitutes fraud," Sibiya explained. He further warned people to “check the credentials of the person/s who claim to represent SANParks or Kruger National Park before contributing anything of monetary value to them.”
"Our employees are aware that only authorised and designated staff members can represent or speak on behalf of SANParks on any particular matter. However, we cannot prevent them or any member of the public from joining these online forums in their individual capacity," he said.
These reports are troubling because potential visitors from elsewhere in the world wanting to tour South Africa’s premier national parks also rely on the Internet for research on Kruger, the country’s flagship park and one of the richest wildlife viewing parks in the world. Kruger has a wide range of accommodations that permit the public to enjoy the attractions of this nearly 7,500-square-mile national park and biosphere reserve.
Best Bet: be sure you’re on the park’s official Web site.
SANParks advises customers "to use the official online web address for complaints, compliments and queries."
Could Critical Thailand Tiger Sanctuary be Flooded?
An article in The Jakarta Post warned that, “Thailand's pledge to double the number of endangered wild tigers in the country's jungles by 2022 will be in jeopardy if a new dam at a national park is built.” The area is the last tiger sanctuary in Southeast Asia.
A dam is being proposed on the Mae Wong river at the Mae Wong National Park north-west of Bangkok. The structure will be part a flood management plan that will help irrigate farmland.
However, to do that, it will destroy nearly 4,500 acres of low-lying forest that is excellent habitat for wildlife, including the tiger. The paper said, “Thailand was among 12 Asian countries that committed themselves at the Global Tiger Summit in Russia in 2010 to doubling the world's tiger population to 7,000 by 2022. The 900-square-kilometer national park has been protected for more than 24 years.”
The plan generated controversy among environmentalists when Anak Pattanavibool, the director of the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Thailand program, wrote an article in the Bangkok Post. "The entire Western Forest Complex is Thailand's very last stronghold for many globally endangered and vulnerable species," Anak wrote. "The international community ... has hailed the long and firmly held policy of Thailand to protect the Western Forest Complex and its associated natural heritage as an example for others to follow. Successive governments have invested in total more than THB 300 million (US$9.65 million) to make the park as secure as it is today," he said.
Thailand's Western Forest Complex is the largest system of protected areas in mainland Southeast Asia and overlaps the border with Myanmar.
The Jakarta paper said “Thailand's Cabinet approved the dam project in April, but no environmental impact assessment has been carried out.”
In an interview, Anak said, “Building a dam and reservoir in a national park is illegal in the first place. Constructing the dam and reservoir would destroy Thailand's reputation for wildlife protection.”
Conservationists think the plan will "test the strength of the country’s Department of National Parks, which has the authority to turn down the plan."