Self-drive excursions to save wildlife parks from bankruptcy
Nelson Mandela Bay game parks — and their inhabitants — are eager to welcome the friendly faces of the metro as they reopen for self-drive excursions under level-three lockdown.
Environment, forestry & fisheries minister Barbara Creecy announced that on June 1 various nature-based activities, including self-drive excursions, were permitted in level three under strict social-distancing protocols.
Seaview Predator Park in Port Elizabeth was among the parks eager to operate but forced to put off the reopening.
The park’s wildlife manager, Joanne Meiring, said the government had initially stated that parks could operate in level two or one and as a result the park had not prepared and were yet to meet the safety standards.
The park would open its gates on June 20, Meiring said.
“We are very happy that we will be operating, even if it’s just self-drive tours. The lockdown almost broke us,” she said.
Meiring said due to heavy rain last week the park’s roads needed to be repaired before opening.
She said they were already receiving a number of calls from nature lovers booking self-drive tours.
“This is good for us. It’s money to the bank and we can now sustain the park and provide for the staff.
“The lockdown was bad. The park was literally taking care of three families who live here [at the park]. We were saved by the ubuntu [humanity] showed by Bay people when we asked for donations,” she said.
The park made a call for assistance on Facebook for donations as it was unable to feed its animals with leftover food from restaurants and other establishments such as guest houses which was the case before the lockdown.
But with level-three lockdown regulations, this was no longer the case.
Meiring said: “We are so excited because on Father’s Day in June we will have a daddies’ special and won’t charge fathers [on the day].”
She said due to social-distancing and to protect the staff from the virus there would be a rotational roster.
Kragga Kamma Game Park opened its gates on June 1.
The Weekend Post could not get comment from the park before going to print.