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Conservation Services

GIS & Remote Sensing

SANParks GIS-RS Lab, Kruger National Park, Skukuza

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are information systems designed specifically for geographical data. As such, GIS invariably stores digital representations of data that would traditionally have been drawn on a map. GIS typically store data in separate layers, one for rivers, one for roads and so on. These layers can be processed and analysed separately or in combination to produce more layers, maps, tables and charts. The GIS Lab at Skukuza exists mainly to serve the Kruger National Park ’s (KNP) Scientific Services Division. It aims to provide access to specialized GIS and remote sensing (RS) software, hardware, data and literature as well as our in-house expertise to resident and visiting scientists. Our objectives include:

  • Providing data capture and pre-processing facilities (hardware and software).
  • Serving an online spatial data catalogue.
  • Building a good quality and well catalogued spatial database.
  • Providing a facility with good hardware and cutting-edge GIS/RS software for our own staff and for researchers.
  • Supporting spatial analyses.
  • Offering training courses in GIS and RS.
  • Generating GIS awareness.

Remote Sensing

Geo-information science is concerned with the collection, storage and processing of geo-spatial data as well as the dissemination and practical use of this data. Remote Sensing is the main source of spatial data. To achieve the broad SANParks’ objective of maintaining biodiversity in all its natural facets and fluxes, Geo-information science, and remote sensing in particular plays a pivotal role in providing the required spatial information. The activities, staff, facilities and services of the GIS/RS section in the KNP contribute a great deal in answering critical scientific questions for improved biodiversity monitoring and management. The GIS/RS section addresses spatial problem areas to guarantee relevant, economic, timely and reliable information. Remote sensing research in the Kruger NP has been substantially supported by the SAFARI 2000 Southern African Regional Science Initiative, through which the GIS Lab has been provided with a large amount of imagery (mostly from NASA), both airborne and from space. SAFARI 2000 scientists are using this imagery for biosphere-atmosphere research.


The CyberTracker (CT) System is a handheld computer software application designed for use in Environmental Conservation and Wildlife Biology as a data-capture tool.. The system allows literate as well as non-literate field workers to record customised observations with latitude (lat) and longitude (long) co-ordinates. The Kruger National Park (KNP) first recognised the potential use of the CT system as an ecological data collection tool in early 2000 and assisted by the GTZ, was able to purchase 44 Palm IIIe organisers and 44 Garmin 12XL GPS units with Palm/GPS interface cables. CT was used on a trial basis for the duration of 2000 and into 2001, after which the system was reviewed and additional funding sought to improve the system. In 2003 funds were donated from the Erna Goodwin estate towards the CyberTracker initiative in the KNP. The donation money was used to purchase 120 Handspring Visor Deluxe organisers with integrated Magellan GPS companions: 5 units for each of the 22 management sections throughout KNP as well as 5 units for the Conservation Services Dept...If you would like to make a donation to the Kruger CyberTracker program, please visit our Support Page.

Conservation Support

SANParks Conservation staff are active across all 21 of our South African National Parks (SANParks). In keeping with the SANParks mission, Conservation Services is responsible for conservation research, guided by an adaptive management framework and aimed at the maintenance of biodiversity and the preservation of wilderness qualities and cultural resources. As a result, environmental monitoring and research are conducted within each Park. However, severe budget limitations constrain many of the operational goals of conservation management and research initiatives. This is especially the case for conservation field staff, who often lack even basic operational items and it is support that we are always in need of.

Data Access

GIS-RS data is available in vector format: boundaries, climate, fauna, flora, fire, geology, soils, hydrology, infrastructure, land classifications, topography, research sites and raster format: climate, elevation, hydrology, landcover, terrain.

To access these data, please submit your data request to Sandra MacFadyen . You will be asked to complete a data user agreement, indicating your project registration number and the specific data layers you require to conduct your research.