Pretoria - The South African National Parks (SANParks) Wild Card programme, which allows nature lovers to have unlimited access to some of Southern Africa's premier conservation areas, has been overhauled and members should be receiving their new cards by the end of the year.
This was announced by SANParks on Wednesday, following numerous challenges with the programme over the past year.
SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism and Marketing Glenn Phillips said a decision was taken to move to a more advanced technology to enable SANParks and its partners to provide relevant benefits to the loyal card members.
New cards, which make use of a smart-card chip for easier access and improved gate control, have already gone through a pilot testing in Augrabies and Mokala National Parks in Northern Cape.
"Because the original member database was incomplete and corrupt, it has had to be completely updated, which caused the frustrating delays in the distribution of cards.
"The integration between the systems should be completed by the end of the year. The focus will now fall on getting all the partner parks live so visitors can enjoy seamless access to all properties," Phillips said
He said that 30 000 cards, which are also personalised to prevent fraud, have already been distributed to all valid members so that they can continue to visit their favourite places.
"More cards are ready for mailing and the Wild Card team has been enlarged to deal with the demand. The online interface for data capture has also been reworked for improved accuracy and until such time as all the new cards have been distributed, members can access parks with their confirmation of membership letter and proof of identification (ID or passport)."
The card allows unlimited entry for a year to more than 80 parks and reserves around Southern Africa, partners include the Big Game Parks of Swaziland, CapeNature, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Msinsi Resorts and Reserves.
Phillips apologised to members who had been frustrated. "We would like to thank them for their forbearance and continuing goodwill in the Wild Card programme, particularly during the transition into the new system."