BuaNews (Tshwane)

South Africa: Kruger Park Warns Public of Fraudsters

Pretoria — Members of the public, the business community and staff members have been warned to be on the lookout for people who falsely and publicly claim to represent the Kruger National Park (KNP) on various aspects of its business.

"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," said Managing Executive of the Kruger National Park, Abe Sibiya, in a statement on Friday.

"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.

These people cite in their online forums that their customer care facility is meant to assist with reporting of issues - for example incidents or complaints concerning the National Parks, therefore complementing the organisation's existing channels.

The administrators of these forums encourage the public either through their own forum or media that issues such as complaints and queries should be posted on their forum.

They then in turn approach staff members at the relevant parks/camps whom they can manage to get hold of, for a follow-up and feedback.

Sibiya said of concern was that these online operators also claimed on their forums, that they raise funds for various conservation causes which they hand over to the SANParks Honorary Rangers, though not giving any legal explanation as to why they would do such.

"SANParks has a healthy relationship and a direct contact with the Honorary Rangers which again would not need any third party, and therefore we would like to advise 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/KNP 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.

To submit feedback on SANParks, customers are advised to use the official online web addresses as follows:

- complaints, compliments and queries on http://www.sanparks.org/.

- contact or website queries on http://www.sanparks.org/webmaster/contactform.php

- If one would like to join and take part in the SANParks.org Forum, the link is http://www.sanparks.org/forums/index.php?style=2.

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