Elite rangers will be out in full force to keep the public and Table Mountain National Park safe this festive season, says SA National Parks (SANParks).
On Wednesday December 13, the media saw a demonstration of some of the capabilities of the the Sea, Air and Mountain (Seam) rangers – who were first introduced to the public in 2021 – during a tour of the SANParks Newlands Fire Base.
The Table Mountain National Park covers more than 25 000 hectares including Cape Point, Tokai Forest, Silvermine, Newlands Forest, the Deer Park and Table Mountain.
SANParks has 112 rangers covering the park, of which 15 are members of the elite unit, according to park manager Megan Taplin.
With more than 1000 entry points to the park, it was vulnerable to “less desirable elements” and thefts of cars, thefts from cars and muggings were just some of the crimes the park had to deal with, she said.
The park’s Safety and Security Forum, with representatives from SAPS, the City and SANParks, helps to coordinate its response to crime.
“The forum has already proven valuable for purposes of streamlined and optimal deployment of resources to target crime and share intelligence aimed at informing operations,” Ms Taplin said.
The manager of the Seam team, Jaclyn Smith, said it specialised in intelligence-driven operations.
The team’s dog unit – which uses Belgian Malinois and Dutch shepherd dogs – demonstrated how it would stop and check a suspicious vehicle, search it for abalone, tree bark or other poached items, and arrest a suspect.
At Seam’s operation’s room, information officer Ayesha Davids said they kept a close on the park and marine protected areas.
“We have cameras imaging across the park and they have cameras located in strategic places and places of concern.”
The operations room stays in contact with City law enforcement agencies, SAPS and certain neighbourhood watches.
Ms Taplin said Seam rangers had made 36 successful arrests since 2021, including 21 for marine-related crimes such as abalone poaching.
She appealed to the public to take basic safety precautions when visiting the park, including doing so during the day and in groups.
“This is not to only deter criminal elements but in case someone gets injured then they won’t be alone,” she said.
Visitors should obey signage; note emergency numbers on the signs; wear appropriate clothing and shoes; take enough water and only make fires in designated areas, she said.
Call 086 110 6417 for park emergencies.