Paul Shabangu, 42, from Nelspruit was the first person to be lifted in his wheelchair into the car, and he described the experience as life-changing.

“I don’t stay far from the Kruger National Park, but then every time I thought about coming I would be discouraged knowing that it’s hard for me to get on the vehicles. But now I will as they have cars available for people with mobility disabilities,” he said.

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Deliwe Sambo, 29, who was a bit scared in the beginning, said she’s also happy with the innovation. “I never thought I would also go to a game drive and now it’s possible, I’m happy.”

The pair was taken on a two-hour game drive.

General Manager of the Kruger National Park, Lucy Nhlapho said: “We would like to ensure that the park promotes access whilst creating an inclusive environment which provides wildlife experience for all.”

Nhlapho said people with disabilities should also be able to use and enjoy the park. “This is an important segment of the market and should not be excluded from interacting with nature.

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“We believe that the launch of the activity vehicles for people with mobility challenge will increase awareness and understanding, as well as improving access to the tourists with disabilities, in particular the wheelchair- users, for their benefit and enjoyment.

‘We have a commitment to equity and diversity and these we can only achieve if we give access to everybody in our tourism offerings, regardless of their physical, intellectual or sensory capabilities [sic],” Nhlapo said.

– African News Agency