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Media Release: Kruger reaches out to communities during SANParks Week

Date: 15th September 2009

Senior citizens, school pupils, taxi drivers and sports clubs are just some of the communities that the Kruger National Park (KNP) will be reaching out too during SANParks Week this week (Monday September 14 until Saturday September 19, 2009).

KNP HOD Public Relations William Mabasa addresses gathering
William Mabasa addresses 100
pensioners from surrounding areas
during SANParks Week

Senior citizens, school pupils, taxi drivers and sports clubs are just some of the communities that the Kruger National Park (KNP) will be reaching out too during SANParks Week this week (Monday September 14 until Saturday September 19, 2009).

“We would naturally like to reach out to everyone with events and functions, but this isn’t possible so we have targeted those communities that are often neglected,” said Mr William Mabasa, the Park’s HOD of Public Relations and Communication.

Today (Tuesday September 15, 2009), KNP management hosted 100 senior citizens at a luncheon event in Skukuza Rest Camp. The senior citizens came from Acornhoek, Bushbuckridge and Mkhuhlu and they experienced traditional dancing and heard speeches about the importance of conservation and national parks. Most of these senior citizens – who live only a few kilometres away from the KNP – have never been to the KNP.

“We believe that our senior folk are often overlooked and feel that we would like to make amends. We realise that this is only a small gesture, but hopefully it will help to bridge the gap between the KNP and our grandparents and great-grandparents that live in the neighbouring communities,” said Mr Mabasa.

SANParks Week 2009 has also seen the role out of the “Walk on the Wild Side” initiative. Launched during SANParks Week 2008, this project sees tourism students from surrounding schools visiting the park and receiving practical experience in this field. Tourism students will visit the KNP throughout SANParks Week 2009 to experience what it is like working in a world-class tourism destination.

On Wednesday September 16, 2009, the KNP will host representatives from the taxi industry in Acornhoek at a meeting in Satara Rest Camp. This event is also part of SANParks Week and is aimed at involving this industry in conservation.

“Often, taxi drivers are accused of many misdemeanours and this meeting is an attempt to bridge the gap between the KNP and these drivers, who we believe can play an important role in helping to spread the conservation message,” explained Mr Mabasa.

KNP management also believes that local taxi drivers can also play an important transport role – that of bringing communities from the surrounding areas into the Park - and for many people, this would be their first visit.

“We have included the rules and regulations on the agenda for discussion with the taxi drivers as we believe this subject to be highly relevant,” added Mr Mabasa.

On Thursday September 17, 2009 there will be another lunch event for a further 100 senior citizens in Mopani Rest Camp. The programme for the event is similar to that which took place on Tuesday at Skukuza, however senior citizens will come from areas like Namakgale (just outside Phalaborwa) and the villages near Punda Maria Entrance Gate.

Keep Kruger Clean Campaign

Also on this day will be a sod-turning event as part of the ongoing “Keep Kruger Clean Campaign”. This event will take place at Kruger Entrance Gate on Thursday morning (September 17, 2009). This date is significant as it is the SANParks National Clean-up Day. The sod-turning event will herald the construction of a cairn which will display the important message of Keeping Kruger Clean by November 2009.

Friday September 18, 2009 sees the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Morning Walks in the KNP. This event, which will take place at Skukuza Rest Camp, will see various awards handed over to present and former day walk guides as well as speeches by notaries such as the KNP’s HOD of Conservation Management Dr Freek Venter on the importance of allowing guests to experience the wilderness qualities of a place like the KNP.

A plethora of sporting codes including netball, volleyball, soccer, cricket, marathon running and others will be played on Saturday September 19, 2009 during the KNP Sports Day. This event, which will take place at the various sporting venues in and around Skukuza Rest Camp, will give KNP sports men and women a chance to practice their skills in a competitive environment.

“We all realise and accept that sport and exercise can play a huge role in the general health and wellbeing of our staff and this is a way that we can encourage our staff to adopt healthy lifestyles. The added bonus of this event is that it will be a day of fun for the whole family,” said Mr Mabasa.

SANParks Week was launched yesterday (Monday September 14, 2009) in Mopani Rest Camp by the Minister of Environment and Water Affairs, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica and national parks all over the country are presently celebrating this yearly event.

Issued by:
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: raymondt@sanparks.org

Enquiries:
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communication, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: (013) 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: williamm@sanparks.org

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