Tourist Banned for Life For Flying Drone Over Park in South Africa

A visitor at one of Africa’s largest game reserves was issued a lifetime ban for illegally flying a drone in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

byMarco Margaritoff| UPDATED Feb 21, 2018 8:47 AM
Tourist Banned for Life For Flying Drone Over Park in South Africa

A tourist at Kruger National Park in northeast South Africa has been banned for life from entering the premises for using a drone and thereby violating the park’s prohibition of unmanned aerial vehicles established in 2014. 

According to sUAS News, visitors at the park, one of Africa’s most expansive game reserves, took photos of the pilot as he left his car to use the drone. Ultimately, the South African police force and Kruger National Park authorities had to merely wait at the park’s Phalaborwa Gate and wait for the offender's car to pass by. 

Kruger National Park employee Ike Phaahla was present during the man’s arrival, upon which his vehicle was searched and the drone in question was found. Regardless of the pilot’s apparent ignorance regarding the prohibition of UAVs on the property, he was punished with a lifetime ban. 

“He explained that he did not go through his permit rules and was not aware of the ban on drones inside the park,” Phaahla explained. When questioned by the officials on site as to why he flew the UAV in Kruger National Park airspace, he claimed he was eager to capture some wildlife imagery. Unfortunately for him, he was still issued a permanent ban. 

While the park already officially prohibited the use of UAVs years ago, Phaahla deemed it appropriate to issue another warning in the wake of this event. 

“The flying of drones is illegal in national parks, as they are legislated protected areas with restricted airspace and therefore a no-fly zone for all unauthorized aircraft systems,” said Phaahla

He went on to explain that anyone actively dismissing this law will have to face the appropriate repercussions. “We would like to inform wrongdoers and other drone users that, should they be found flying them in the park at any time, they will be arrested on the spot and their equipment will be seized,” Phaahla warned. 

Anyone enthusiastic about traveling, drones, and aerially capturing footage should educate themselves on the local regulations. A smartphone app like DroneMate, for example, can help recreational UAV pilots navigate regional drone laws across a wide swath of the globe. Had this tourist informed himself of South Africa's drone laws regarding national parks, and adhered to them of course, he'd still be able to visit Kruger National Park the next time he enters the country.