A drone was crucial in helping officials rescue a hiker stuck on Table Mountain. Picture: Western Cape Government/Supplied
A drone was crucial in helping officials rescue a hiker stuck on Table Mountain. Picture: Western Cape Government/Supplied

Drone helps officials rescue hiker stuck on Table Mountain

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Feb 10, 2021

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While the recreational use of drones is prohibited in the national park, a drone was crucial in helping officials rescue a hiker stuck on Table Mountain.

Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) spokesperson Johann Marais said that the NPO was requested to assist a hiker shortly after 10am on Wednesday.

The hiker had said that he was unable to proceed or did not feel safe to proceed from his position on the slopes of Table Mountain, and provided WSAR with a picture of his view.

"We were not able to make an informed decision on exactly where on the rock face he was, or even how high up or down he was stuck. The Emergency Medical Services division of the Western Cape Health Department recently acquired a drone and have duly trained staff to operate the drone.

“Whilst drones are not allowed in any nature conservation area, permission was obtained to operate and use the drone in the search. The drone operation found the stricken person fairly easily,” Marais said.

“This assisted our team to plan a rescue from above the person. It also meant that our teams knew what rope lengths they required.”

A team was deployed to cover the approximate 40-minute walk and climb to reach the hiker, who was not believed to be injured.

WSAR was able to reach him at 1.25pm, and climbed down the mountain and reached the road near the Kramat on Lions Head by 2:40pm.

Earlier in the week, The Table Mountain National Park condemned the continued use of drones for recreational purposes at the national park and reminded the public that the area is considered a no-fly zone.

According to the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA): The Protected Areas Act, it is illegal to fly below 2 500 feet above the highest point of any national park, with any aircraft or drone, without the permission from the management authority of the park.

National parks are protected areas with restricted airspace, which make them a no-fly zone for all unauthorised aircraft systems, including drones, said SANParks spokesperson Lauren Clayton.

Cape Argus

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