Table Mountain National Parks is on a mission to rid the iconic national treasure of criminality. They have trained an elite unit that specialises in sea, mountain and aerial safety.
Many visitors and tourists have fallen victim to robbery or murder while visiting or hiking the mountain over the years.
A picturesque mountain, recently voted as one of the seven wonders of the world, is occasionally in the news for all the wrong reasons, criminality perpetrated against visitors and hikers.
With members of the public raising safety concerns on the Mountain, a specialised team of rangers has been trained as a response to the concerns.
The K9 unit with fully trained dogs will specialise in visitor safety, search and rescue and illicit wildlife crimes.
First of its kind, each team member also receives combined training in the combat of poaching of marine life and biodiversity. The operations will be intelligence-driven.
SANParks Acting CEO Dumisani Dlamini says, “They will be covering mainly all the areas that are at Table Mountain including your Cape Point and surrounding areas. How we actually distributed the team is to look after the Mountain itself – that’s why the intensive training will be all-rounders – so its earth, the mountain and the marine protected areas, and all the marine protected areas surrounding the mountain. We are looking at actually growing the team.”
Table Mountain Operations Manager Jaclyn Smith says, “Remember that we are in an urban setting, so crime does spill over from the urban areas to the park. The advantage that we have now is that we have a cross-functional team that can be deployed by vessel, by aircraft and just on the mountain by foot. So, we are aiming at improving our reaction time to incidents and allow for early detection.”
Safety on the Mountain is a partnership with the City of Cape Town.
“One of the important innovations is an eye in the sky. So last time we had that extensive fire at Vredehoek, a very destructive fire that impacted very much at UCT, we tested an aerial system that we now intend to extend to SANParks. And in the new year, we extend the eye on the sky which will be able to give us good visuals day and night. We intend to share that with SANParks to make sure we surveil the parts of the park where we don’t otherwise have CCTV coverage,” explains Smith.
SANParks says tourists contribute to the sustainability of the parks and their safety is important.
Certificates and floating trophies were handed over to rangers who excelled during their training.
Table Mountain National Park gets K9 ranger unit: