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Tour drivers asked to observe park rules

Tsavo National Park will continue to enforce its wildlife-first policy and safety regulations for visitors who tour the expansive park to see wild animals.
Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) Assistant Director George Osuri said tour drivers who visited the park were aware of the rules regulating driving inside the protected area.
He added that the park was a sensitive zone where all vehicle movements were regulated to avoid disturbing the wildlife in addition to keeping the visitors safe.
Speaking to KNA on Friday, Osuri said drivers and visitors were briefed at the gate on what was expected of them while inside the park. There were also brochures and signage which gave more information to visitors.
“We are very strict about how tour drivers and visitors behave while inside the park. Those who violate our rules are dealt with firmly including reprimanding them or banning such drivers from accessing the park,” he said.
Osuri stated that a recent photo that went viral showing dozens vehicles owned by famous local tour operator going off-road during a game drive was not taken in Tsavo National Park but inside a nearby sanctuary.
The photo elicited fiery debate with many conservationists expressing their outrage over what they viewed as violation of park rules. Other people supported the drivers and termed it as a way of seeking adventure.
The debate brings to the fore the conduct and discipline of tour drivers who seek to provide their customers with the best of bush experiences in the competitive industry.
Due to such competition, some drivers go off the designated park routes in search of rare-to-see wild animals like lions and leopards and in so doing violate parks rules.
Other violations include disturbing wild animals while they are resting or feeding by moving close to them.
“The photo was not in Tsavo. We enforce safety standards for wildlife and our visitors and drivers violating such are firmly dealt with,” said Osuri.
Tsavo Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Community Warden Ben Mwangi said rules of watching the wild animals were basically uniform whether in protected areas or outside. He said animals had some rights and visitors were not supposed to disturb them.
“The visitors can take photos and watch wild animals without interfering. Animals have their right to rest without disturbance,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi

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