With more than 4 million visitors a year, Table Mountain National Park is a massively popular tourist attraction.
Management at this attraction are taking proactive steps to ensure visitor safety this year.
The upcoming summer holiday season will see an additional 30 visitor safety rangers added to the park, the only protected area in the country to be entirely based in and around well-populated urban areas.
The newcomers boost the safety and security detail of park rangers to 60 and a team of 11 canine members support them in ongoing operations and patrols to ensure Table Mountain National Park visitors leave with only good memories.
An escalation of crimes, including muggings and robberies early last year saw park management go on the offensive to put an end to the presence of unwelcome intruders. The appointment and training of the first batch of visitor safety rangers was supported by the introduction of well-trained dogs.
The addition of dogs trained to high levels of search and retrieve was made possible by the park’s honorary ranger corps through a community sponsorship campaign.
The new additions to the park’s safety and security component necessitated an extra R3m in expenditure.
Park manager Paddy Gordon said he was “pleased” the extra funding had gone into visible policing rather than high-tech equipment.
“The success of the visitor safety team was a major factor in deciding to expand the uniformed presence on the mountain. This will reinforce the message to visitors that we take their safety seriously and use the most efficient means to make sure crime will not be tolerated in the park,” he said at a passing out parade for the new visitor safety rangers.
The park’s safety team work closely with police and the visible policing approach has resulted in criminal incidents decreasing by 50% in a 12 month period.
When not deployed on patrols, the safety rangers have been hard at work clearing out old military bunkers, caves and hideouts used by those intent on spoiling what an enjoyable day at one of the world’s Seven New Natural Wonders should be. Loiterers have also been identified and taken to nearby police stations for fingerprinting which has seen a number detained for crimes committed elsewhere.
SANParks chief executive Dr David Mabunda said: “This modus operandi has proven effective and we will continue with it so that the bloodsuckers who want to prey on tourists and other people who use Table Mountain for recreational purposes find their way blocked.”