BY MATHIAS RINGA
The world famous Kruger National Park in South Africa has received a new fleet of vehicles to bolster conservation and game viewing activities.
The park’s managing executive Glenn Phillips officially received the new vehicles from Toyota South Africa at Skukuza last Friday.
Vehicles, which were officially handed over to the park included 63 Toyota light duty vehicles (pick-up, vans and mini buses), Toyota Hilux double cabs, 74 4×4 single cabs, eight Land Cruiser pick-ups, 17 Toyota commuter buses and six Hino buses.
Other vehicles were 60 Toyota Hilux nine-seater game viewing vehicles, a Toyota Sedan, four Toyota ambulances and two Hino Trucks.
The new fleet of vehicles will be used for various conservation- and tourism-related activities across the park.
“Kruger National Park has traditionally used Toyota vehicles for many years; the relationship between us and the vehicle dealer comes from humble beginnings and has stood the test of time.
“In 2002, South African National Parks (SANParks) outsourced vehicles from VUSWA, which introduced LDVs of another brand, but later re-introduced the Toyota fleet because the vehicles proved to be reliable and durable in our terrain.
“VUSWA’s contract with SANParks ended in 2015, and then we decided to in-source our fleet by purchasing new vehicles from Toyota.”
During the handover event, Mr Phillips spoke of a close partnership between SANParks and Toyota, saying that he hoped the relationship would continue to grow from strength to strength.
He also indicated that LNM Auto, an accredited private company had been contracted to service the fleet, manage the three workshops found in the Park whilst providing the KNP’s emergency breakdown service (066 465 4875).
Mr Phillips added: “At the end of last year, Toyota donated four special visitor management vehicles to the KNP at a time when the park was busy and needed such vehicles for visibility on the roads.
“This is testimony that our relationship with Toyota is like that of siblings, who have each other’s back and assist one another when in need. We also appreciate that Toyota customized the new vehicles by colour coding them at no additional costs.”
The park’s extensive fleet includes 371 vehicles, which range in size and models from light commercial vehicles, heavy commercial vehicles to those that provide medical services.
Kruger National Park boasts almost 2 million hectares of unrivalled biodiversity – making it one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
The iconic park is home to more than 140 mammals, which include the celebrated Big Five-lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo.
Other animals found in the wildlife paradise include cheetahs, zebras, hippos, impalas, warthogs, kudus, wildebeests and giraffes.
The park is also endowed with an impressive number of species: 507 bird species, 336 tree species, 114 reptiles, 49 fish and 34 amphibian species.
As a result of its large number of wild animals including the most sought after Big Five, Kruger National Park is one of the best safari destinations in the world.
The celebrated park receives more than a million visitors annually from across the globe, playing a key role in South Africa’s tourism industry.