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Media Release: SANParks launches South African National Parks Week

Date: 11th September 2006

08 September 2006

Today, Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks) announced the launch of the first South African National Parks Week at the SANParks head office in Groenkloof, Pretoria.

18 September 2006

Today, Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive of South African National Parks (SANParks) announced the launch of the first South African National Parks Week at the SANParks head office in Groenkloof, Pretoria.

This inaugural event, to be held from 18 to 24 September and annually henceforth, is supported by First National Bank (funding patron). In effect, the South African National Parks Week (SANPW) is aimed at linking the South African national parks system to the global national movement and to also showcase the best of South Africa’s national parks.

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, will launch the week’s programme at a function to be held at the SANParks Head Office in Groenkloof, Pretoria on September 18.

The theme for this focused week is “Know Your National Parks” and the main objectives of the week are to create awareness; instill a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage; educate the public on the importance of nature and biodiversity and give the public a broader understanding of the custodianship role played by SANParks in conservation issues. This initiative is in line with the organisation’s People and Conservation efforts to bring national parks closer to the people. Some of the preceding initiatives are the Kids in Parks, Kruger to Kasie and Imbewu programmes, which are all aimed at developing a strong stakeholder base for national parks through awareness and education.

Essentially, the week kicks off with a series of activities which will be held in various parks throughout the country. The public will have free access to all national parks through a programme that will be initiated by the People and Conservation division that will be targeting community and school groups.

Each of the 22 national parks has developed a unique plan for celebrating SANPW which range from career guidance exhibitions; hiking trails; photography competitions; exhibitions on various activities around the parks; game drives; evening boma braais; story telling sessions; sports activities to give-aways. The individual park programmes can be viewed in the SANParks website (http://www.sanparks.org/).

Gcobani Mancotywa of FNB Public Sector Banking said the bank’s partnership in this initiative flowed naturally from its role as primary banker to SANParks. He added: “As well as offering innovative banking solutions to support SANParks’ many activities, FNB has been partnering with the National Heritage Council in preserving and promoting South Africa's heritage wealth.

“FNB recognizes the importance of tourism and therefore we started a specialist division aligned to the strategic objectives of the industry, while working closely with the relevant bodies. In recognising the importance of public-private partnerships, we support the benefit that this week-long initiative will bring to previously disadvantaged communities, so that they too can benefit from our national parks.”

The highlight of the week’s activities will be the 75th anniversary celebration of the former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park which now forms part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park with Botswana, where the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, will give a keynote address.

“In the future we hope to put this on the same footing as the international initiatives, with a nationally declared week for the enjoyment of national parks”, said Dr Mabunda.

Said Dr Mabunda: “This inaugural South African National Parks Week is an opportunity to take our national parks to the people of South Africa. It is part of a process whereby we foster a better understanding among the general public of the custodianship role that SANParks plays in conservation issues.”

“The natural and cultural heritage that we protect belongs to the people of South Africa. The events planned for this week are a chance to celebrate, showcase, and develop a deep sense of pride in this shared heritage.”

Dr Mabunda added that the SANPW was also a wonderful chance to educate people on biodiversity and conservation issues, and raise awareness and support for SANParks by sharing information about the obstacles that the organisation faced, the challenges and everyday success stories that staff across all various national parks worked so hard to achieve. 
 

Issued by: South African National Parks

Inquiries:

Wanda Mkutshulwa
Head: Communications
South African National Parks
Tel: (012) 426-5201
Cell: 082-908-2692

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