Darn Drones

11 May 2018 14:58 #73450 by Adventurekim.com
Darn Drones was created by Adventurekim.com
Hi guys

What regulations are happening regarding the increasingly big groups up to 46 in some cases, sleeping in caves, defacing of caves and damage to trails? is there a governing body that regulates this. I do know that the rules and numbers in caves are clearly indicated on National Parks and KZN Wildlife websites, but it does not seem to be enforced. Are the private guides regulated and if they transgress do they get fined? Do routes get time to recover?

A recent visit to Injisuti we discovered that anyone can come and collect the key for Battle Cave and that a guide no longer goes with? surely this should not be allowed in a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

The other thing is the increased use of drones at camp sites namely Injisuthi and Garden Castle - my understanding is they are illegal. Is there a national drive to educate the public on drones in National parks?

I understand that policing this is a mission so education may be the answer.

Any thoughts on this?

Many thanks.

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12 May 2018 06:54 #73472 by Richard Hunt
Replied by Richard Hunt on topic Darn Drones
@Adventurekim.com Yes there are strict rules within a world heritage site and sadly in the Maloti Drakensberg Park many of them are being broken. When we hiked on the Amphitheatre the last long weekend we had a drone buzzing around our heads and I found this very annoying, disrupting my wilderness experience. Many photographers are now using them in the Drakensberg Park and EKZNW should stop this new trend before it gets out of hand. They specifically speak about monitoring the air space in their Integrated Management Plan. If this had to happen in other countries (USA) these culprits would be quickly caught, fined and kicked out the Parks. All the drone footage and culprits can be easily found on You Tube!! With regards to the other rules being broken this is just about poor management and the lack of policing. VE can also act as a kind of watch dog and bring these matters to the attention of the Park Authorities....How does everyone think?
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12 May 2018 09:24 #73473 by Captain
Replied by Captain on topic Darn Drones
Couldn't agree more Richard. I think the authorities should enforce a permit system for drone use in these areas. But perhaps shooting them down/confiscating them would be more of a deterrent! lol!
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15 May 2018 05:42 #73486 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Darn Drones
I totally believe in public concern and involvement in conservation and park management matters. Conservation can never be fully effective without this interest and involvement from the public. And this is the case even in countries where conservation authorities are well funded and operate efficiently. Particularly in South Africa where monitoring and enforcement is often lacking, we have even more reason to be concerned and involved. I encourage every VE member to foster relationships with the OIC's of all the Berg areas that they visit, and to constructively engage them in these matters. Their contact details are available here:

An update is needed for some of the details in this document and I will try and get this out soon.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
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15 May 2018 09:40 #73488 by ghaznavid
Replied by ghaznavid on topic Darn Drones
Drones in the Berg are prohibited under a few different laws, but the key one is that the skies of the WHS (so sadly not Mnweni or Free State) are protected due to the lammergeiers. Drones can directly kill these birds (if they fly into the drones), but at a minimum are very disruptive to them. It's the same reason you aren't allowed to base jump or paraglide in the WHS (not sure how it works for X-Berg, but anyway). I saw a relatively horrific gopro video on Youtube of a paraglider hitting a large bird and having to deploy his emergency shoot just in time to avoid a likely fatal crash (he ended up hitting a tree fairly hard, so not a smooth landing in the end - the bird flew away after he landed, but was very tangled up in his chords).

I'm not sure about the facts - but I believe there is also a restriction about flying unregistered aircraft (irrespective of size) above a certain altitude, something like 2200m - so a drone above a certain height would be illegal for additional reasons, even if registered. The link below seems to suggest that it is actually any height - but there is a height where you have to have your route plan approved by air traffic control - although I'm not sure what the height is.

I rate Berg websites and Facebook pages should share this information - I'm sure 90% of drone users will gladly pack their drone up if they know that it could contribute to the extinction of an animal, and is against park rules. In Hiking SA's intro to Berg Passes (which I wrote), the fact that drones are prohibited due to the lammergeiers is clearly stated.

Some interesting laws regarding drones in SA:
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11 Dec 2018 11:02 #74354 by Dudley
Replied by Dudley on topic Darn Drones
This past weekend hiking sentinel to ifidi and back, over two days I experienced for the first time the blatant annoyance of a drone.

Thought to start a topic on this as there might be some different feelings about these little buzzing robots.

I was relaxing in front of crows nest cave after a pretty bad previous night of relentless thunderstorms and I could hear it buzzing around in the amphi bowl/falls area. Even though I'm sure its very illegal to fly them in the berg it did not annoy me too much... I get the argument that it gathers very cool footage that could help with conservation, at the very least just because it could spread the beauty of the place... But then the thing saw the cave and started hanging out around it and specifically filming me, close up... This is very illegal as I did not give my consent to be filmed. I tried waving it off and then chucking a rock at it as it didn't...

I'm not massively against these drones but have to admit that I struggle massively with the ignorance of their operators (definitely not all of them I know). we all go to the berg for the impressive view and the nature and all that jazz. I take my camera and tripod with me on hikes to take pictures and videos but to have a little thing buzzing around is extremely selfish as it gathers cool footage for the one person, yet it destroys the enjoyment for so many others... Not to mention the endangered birdlife and conservation issues. 

The next morning the owner/s of it were nowhere to be found. Perhaps next time I should rather shoot it down?

I am thinking to keep an eye out for them whenever I go hiking now and like I do with someone when I see them litter, I would definitely tell them that drone flying in the berg is illegal... 
I'm a little nervous for becoming 'that guy' that no one wants to go hiking with though. Haha

What are your thoughts?
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11 Dec 2018 12:07 #74357 by GriffBaker
Replied by GriffBaker on topic Darn Drones
I agree with you.

Drone footage for the sake of boosting likes on your Instagram profile does not justify making a nuisance of yourself in the mountains. Pilots should require a permit and a valid reason for using their drone up there and the conservation authorities should be enforcing that they are not being used near any known Vulture nesting colonies.

I do not think peoples need to acquire cool footage for personal and social media likes can justify spoiling the wilderness experience for those of us that go up there to get away from the noise of civilisation. 
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02 Jan 2019 20:30 - 02 Jan 2019 20:41 #74429 by WilliamP
Replied by WilliamP on topic Darn Drones
Two people who it appears are using drones that seem to acknowledge having filmed the footage themselves for their social media accounts are: https://www.instagram.com/jacques_crafford/ and  https://www.instagram.com/graeholliday/

I do not see any comments on these particular posts where people even ask if they had a media permit to do so!

Complaining in this forum will achieve nothing, get out there and ask these individuals if they have a media permit and petition Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to enforce the rules and regulations.
Last edit: 02 Jan 2019 20:41 by intrepid. Reason: Fixed instagram links
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