Feathers fly over ‘misleading’ Kruger camp ad

04 September 2018 - 07:32 By Nico Gous

A man is unhappy with a camping resort for claiming a few feathers in their cap.

Stephen Berry complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the print advertisement for the Pafuri River Camp‚ which borders the Kruger National Park’s Pafuri Gate.

In the advertisement published in the June issue of Go! Magazine they stated: “Pafuri River Camp. Main camp. Tented tree accommodation. Bushbar‚ lapa and swimming pool. Relaxed informal atmosphere. From R495 pppn. Campsite. Secluded campsites from R150 pppn. The authentic bushveld experience. Bordering Kruger Park’s Pafuri Gate. Birding specials include [the] African finfoot‚ mottled Spinetail and Pel’s fishing owl. Self-catering or fully catered on request.”

Berry said the ad was misleading because no African finfoots or Pel’s fishing owls have been spotted at the camp “for at least 18 years”.

The Pafuri River Camp denied this‚ but offered to change the wording to: “Seasonal sightings include African finfoot‚ mottled spinetail and Pel’s fishing owl.”

One of their shareholders and Best Birding Africa author Louis Arthur said these birds were found in the area and river camp. He said the Pel’s fishing owl was often around when water levels were higher.

“The respondent (Pafuri) explained that the water in the Mutale River is currently low and it would stand to reason why the birds were not there at the time of the visitation of Mr Berry.”

The ASA asked Bird Life South Africa to give their opinion. Bird expert Dr Melissa Whitecross said these birds could be found along the Levuvhu River in the Kruger National Park‚ which the Mutale River flows into.

“It is thus possible that these species could occur on the Mutale River in front of Pafuri River Camp.”

But Whitecross said they checked the Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 (Sabap2) database and found the birds in question have not been recorded in the area since July 2007.

“Regarding the wording on your advert‚ these species have been recorded in the area of Pafuri River Camp historically and it is possible that they could be observed there again in the future despite no recent records (2007-2018). The changing of the wording to ‘seasonal sightings’ is a good way to capture this.”

The ASA was sceptical of Pafuri’s undertaking.

“The advertiser choosing to highlight two bird species‚ and this of only three mentioned‚ that have not in fact been sighted at their camp for many years. It is not convinced that the phrase ‘seasonal sightings’ communicates that the bird has not been sighted recently.”

But the ASA accepted Bird Life South Africa’s opinion that changing the wording was sufficient.

* An image originally published with this article, credited to RETURNAfrica, depicted scenery around Pafuri Luxury Tented Camp in the Makuleke Contract Park in the Kruger National Park, and did not show Pafuri River Camp, which is outside the park. This image has now been removed.