The Kruger National Park will soon be adding hotel accommodation to its list of attractions. SANParks says the hotels will bring more people to the park and increase revenue to pay for biodiversity projects. However, critics say the hotels will destroy the natural character of a park that has been in existence for over a hundred years.
Boksburg resident Bokkie-Bok van der Bok said he had been coming to the Kruger Park since he was ‘knee-high to a demijohn of Paarl Perlé’.
‘Hotels in the Kruger Park? Are they out of their fukken minds? Look, I have nothing against change. It’s a good thing. But this is what happens when the communists take over.’
Brümhilde Sukscok, a visiting medical student from Schönau im Schwarzwald currently doing her internship with the eminently charming cardiologist, Dr Wouter Basson, said she would stop going to the Kruger Park if hotels were built.
‘How do you think I would feel sleeping on a broken bed in a hot, overpriced rat-infested rondhovel decorated like an East German prison cell while knowing there is a luxury hotel on my doorstep that I can’t afford? Either everybody suffers in the existing accommodation or nobody suffers and we all stay in the hotels. For free.’
Other critics felt it was the wildlife that would suffer most during construction of the hotels.
SANParks chief executive David Mabunda disagrees. ‘Suffering is very 1980s. Who doesn’t love a nice hotel? Maybe the giraffe. But who are we to say? Let’s not be giraffist.’
Pretoria property developer Varkie de Vetket said he supported SANParks ‘one thousand million per cent’.
‘This Mabunda oke sounds alright for a darkie but maybe what we need is a big fat Sol Kerzner thing happening here.’ De Vetket said he would like to see more of the Kruger Park being developed.
‘It’s open space. Wasted. You think the animals appreciate it? Please. Have you ever seen a happy buffalo? This place needs golf courses. Race tracks. It needs casinos. Who wants to go to a game reserve and not stand a chance of walking away with a million bucks? And I don’t mean springbucks either.’
A spokesman for the Sandton Triads said if hotels were going to be built, he saw no reason why processing factories shouldn’t also be built. ‘With factoly we take lhino and erefant horns one time chop chop.’
One regular visitor to the Kruger Park said he would like to see ‘at least five or six shopping malls’ scattered around the reserve.
‘Have you ever tried to buy stuff at a shop in Kruger? Jissus. It’s like shopping in Zimbabwe. The wood is wet. The beer is warm. The frozen meat has been in the fridge since the Ice Age. It’s a helluva thing.’
Mabunda said he had taken the opinions of the public into account and then discarded those that didn’t agree with him.
‘The entire process took – what was it – three minutes? Let’s be honest. People are like sheep. They say they don’t want something, so you give it to them anyway, and then they want to kill you when you try to take it away. Maybe I’m thinking of lions.’
Mabunda gave the assurance that the animals would not be affected by the new development.
‘If they cooperate and hang around the hotels in large numbers, a few lucky ones will be rewarded with a free night. Maybe not a suite, but certainly one of our ground floor rooms.’
He denied rumours that SANParks would start offering drive-by shooting packages for overseas hunters.
‘If anyone is going to kill animals in the Kruger Park, it’s going to be us. Conservation is a dangerous business. There is a huge problem with wildebeest gangs. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but don’t be surprised if there is another one of our “controlled” burns very soon.’
Mabunda said speed traps would continue to operate through the park.
‘Nobody will be exempt. Not even cheetahs. We will also be using tazers to encourage slow-moving animals to pick up the pace. With the new hotels, there will be a lot more people wanting to see some action. Obviously we can’t have game standing in one spot browsing for six hours. And this sleeping during the day will also have to come to an end. A lot of our animals seem to think they are in Mexico.’
Mabunda said SANParks had conducted an extensive visitor survey with a couple from Madrid, and found considerable support for the construction of amphitheatres in which kills could be staged. ‘People come to the Kruger Park for three reasons. To have sex, get motherless drunk and see an animal get killed. In an amphitheatre, we can give them everything. Cheap beer served by topless Ndebele girls, a herd of drugged gemsbok and three or four hungry lionesses. It will be like ancient Rome, without that whole awkward Christian thing.’
Plans to build flyovers to prevent congestion at waterholes are in the pipeline.