Etiquette

Rock art is a non-renewable resource. Once destroyed it is gone forever. Each site is unique and important. Rock paintings and engravings were of deep importance to the people who made them: please treat them with care and respect.

The law protects all rock art in South Africa, and visitors to rock art sites must observe certain rules and procedures. Following is a list of the ‘dos and don'ts’ at sites:

  • Get permission from the landowner or relevant authorities before visiting a rock art site
  • If you find a site that is not open to the public, do not give the location to anyone else. Contact the nearest rock art institution or heritage authority.
  • Treat the art as you would a picture in your house or in a gallery. Never throw water or any liquid on the images or chalk the outlines of engravings to highlight them.
  • Never place graffiti on a rock art site; it is often impossible to remove. These illegal practices obscure and damage the art.
  • Look closely at the art so you can see fine details, but do not touch or lean on painted or engraved images. Fats and oils from the hands lead to the decay of the art and contaminate it for any future dating or chemical analysis.
  • Never remove stone tools or other archaeological artefacts from rock art sites. Even a single artefact can jeopardize further research and lead to the destruction of the site.
  • Avoid stirring up dust from the floors at rock art sites. Dust settles on the art and, in time, hardens to form a dark crust over the paintings.
  • Never attempt any tracing or rubbing of the art since it is easily damaged. Take only photographs (Flash photography will not damage the art).
  • Follow the wilderness motto: 'Leave nothing but your footprints behind'. Litter spoils the experience for the next visitor.
  • Intervene if you see anybody damaging or vandalizing the art. If they persist, inform the police and/or contact the South African Heritage Resource Agency.