South African National Parks are looking to shut down apps that assist tourists in locating Africa’s “big five”: lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and African buffalo.

Numerous articles have been written about this mobile app issue, including these by BBC and Bloomberg. According to park officials, rates of speeding, road rage and wildlife roadkill have increased since the app- “Latest Sightings” was released. This app allows users to post locations of the latest spotted wildlife. The location feature on the app may lead to rushed vehicles which put the wildlife in the parks at risk. SAN Parks authorities are currently looking at legal options to have the app removed.

Lion - South Africa Safari - Djuma Game Reserve - Sabi Sand - Kruger National Park Photo credit: David Berkowitz

According to the BBC article, SAN Parks suggest that these apps are “compromising the values of good game viewing in national parks,” specifically Kruger National Park which is home to “1,500 lions, 12,000 elephants, 2,500 buffalo, 1,000 leopards, and 5,000 rhinos.” However, the creators of Latest Sightings argue that the app has helped raise wildlife awareness. They say the app has also sparked an interest in these animals which could potentially lead to park funding from the general public.

Latest Sightings creators argue that the social media outlet for wildlife has provided assistance for locating injured wildlife.  Their website reads, “we discovered the good that social media communities can do with the education about wildlife.”

While the app may create an interest in wildlife for the general public, it ultimately shifts natural park patterns and environments for the animals. However, if the app is banned, SAN Parks would lose the potential benefit of locating and tending to injured wildlife easier. The solution is unresolved, but with compromise maybe both sides will come out on top.

Photos:

Addo Elephant Park, South Africa: Brian Snelson

https://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/123900378

License to photo: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Lion - South Africa Safari - Djuma Game Reserve - Sabi Sand - Kruger National Park: David Berkowitz

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidberkowitz/5586701879

License to photo: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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