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Media Release: 225 Years Of Conservation Success

Date: 9th May 2006

The Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth; the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park near Upington and the Bontebok National Park in the southern Cape all celebrate 75 years of existence this year. Celebrations to mark these historical milestones have been planned for all three parks.

Speaking during the annual SA Tourism Indaba in Durban, South African National Parks Chief Executive Dr David Mabunda said the establishment of these national parks marked the evolution of the conservation ethic not only at SANParks but also in South Africa as a whole with the unique experiences that each park brings to visitors.

"National parks are very strong symbols of a country’s heritage and heritage is not an overnight creation – and that is why the jubilee celebrations of these parks is clearly so important to our history".

"Much as we do not have all the ingredients that stimulate direct economic growth, we know that national parks create an enabling environment for broad economic empowerment and growth for those communities living around parks," said Mabunda.

While Kgalagadi was proclaimed as a national park in July 1931 , it was officially opened as a Transfrontier Park in May 2000. With the overwhelming size of 1,7 million hectares, Kgalagadi has been successfully managed by both South Africa and Botswana and it was the first transfrontier park in Africa which set an example for others to follow.

It is also one of the most pristine conservation areas on earth where nature manages the environment and man has little influence. The park is also recognised as a premier international tourist destination.

The original elephant section of the Addo Elephant National Park was proclaimed in 1931 when only 11 elephants remained in the area, today, more than 450 of these large mammals now roam the park. Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, as well as the unique flightless dung beetle are all found exclusively in Addo.

Bontebok National Park was also proclaimed in 1931. It is a place of simplistic beauty and peaceful charm. The park was set up to protect the last of the 30 Bontebok left in the wild. Through effective management over the last seven decades, the park now boasts around 3 000 of these colourful antelopes.

“We are proud of the fact that in our country, national parks form a central foundation that attracts tourism growth and we are confident that we possess the relevant management capabilities to ensure sustainability for generations to come,” added Dr Mabunda.

For more information on these three national parks and the 19 others under SANParks’ jurisdiction, visitors can go to http://www.sanparks.org/

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