Mountain Park Plans to Keep Dog-Walkers on Tighter Leash
Article obtained from Cape Times, Monday, December 10, 2007
Written by Aeysha Kassiem
The Table Mountain National Park has proposed to extend its ban on dogs to more areas.
Its second environmental management plan draft, giving the proposed areas where dogs would no longer be allowed and the park's code of conduct for dog handlers, has been released for public comment. Public comments should be submitted by January 23.
The Park is well on its way to finalising the plan, which looks at the environmental impact of dog-walking and identifies appropriate areas where people may walk their dogs, among other things.
According to the draft, a compehensive survey of visitors, carried out by the park in 1999 and 2000, found an estimated 78 000 dog walkers used the park. The most popular areas were Newlands Forest 60%, Cecilia Forest 49%, Constantia Nek 39%, Silvermine South 35%, Noordhoek beach 31%, Van Riebeeck Park 28%, and Scarborough Beach 19%.
It was noted that while most people visited the park for their exercise as well as their dogs', walkers accompanied by dogs felt more secure and safer in the more remote parts of the park.
The draft plan proposes that the following areas be closed:
- The "remote wilderness zone" of the Twelve Apostles, and Devil's Peak.
- The "remote wilderness zone" of the Karbonkelberg, including the coastline at its foot.
- The Noordhoek boardwalk.
- Environmental education areas.
A number of places from which dogs have been barred since 2002 would remain closed. They are the boardwalk area around the Silvermine reservoir, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, Orange Kloof, the Rhodes Estate game camp, Boulders, the Oudekraal picnic area, Kirsten-Klawer Valley restricted military area, and the Signal Hill Battery.
The plan proposes opening:
- The Tokai plantation, west of Orpen Road.
- The Noordhoek wetlands.
- The Schusterskraal picnic area.
The draft report takes into account the potential effects that walking dogs would have on the environment.
These include the trampling of the damage to indigenous vegetation at points of entry to dog walking areas, the erosion of footpaths and areas around these, the disturbance of heritage sites.
Under the park's proposed code of conduct, people walking dogs would have to ensure the animals did not injure or kill any wildlife.
They would also have to keep a leash to hand, particularly in areas that required "special management considerations", such as parking areas and picnic areas.
Dog handlers would be required to have a valid Wild Card that included a permit for walking dogs, and each person would be allowed to walk no more than two dogs.
Dogs would have to be under the control and within sight of their handlers, and handlers would have to remove dogs’ excrement from designated areas. They would also have to give right of way to people not accompanied by dogs.
The revised environmental management programme may be found on the Table Mountain National Park's website: www.tmnp.co.za