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Media Release: Karoo National Park – Celebrating 25 years of excellence

Date: 11th March 2005

The Karoo National Park in Beaufort West celebrated 25 years of existence with the opening of the long-awaited educational interpretive centre today.

The Karoo National Park in Beaufort West celebrated 25 years of existence with the opening of the long-awaited educational interpretive centre today.

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Rejoice Mabudafhasi officially opened the interpretive centre.  Set in an old farm building inside the park, the centre will offer visitors and learners information on the fauna and flora as well as the ecological and cultural history of the park.  It also boasts a resource room where learners will be able to do research as part of the park’s environmental education programme.

Speaking during the function to celebrate the park’s milestone, South African National Parks Chief Operating Officer Sydney Soundy paid tribute to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for supporting the park in its endeavours to contribute to the socio-economic and educational well-being of the people of the Central Karoo.

Soundy further spoke of the importance of the interpretive centre for furthering conservation and cultural awareness education in the Central Karoo region.

“Conservation bodies are embracing the transformation of our society as part of the new South Africa and an opportunity exists in the interpretive centre to portray this to a broader audience.  Conservation transformation now incorporates social as well as economic principles in the governance of parks.

“The broader context of ‘environment’ is not limited to the bio-physical aspects but it is extended to the social and the economic ones as well.  Environmental education is now not only restricted to finding the balance in nature but is more concerned with the interrelationships and impacts that are created between these three dynamics” said Soundy.

Proclaimed on 7 September 1979, the Karoo National Park was officially opened on 12 September 1979.  The creation of the park followed a donation of 7 209 ha of land by the Beaufort West Town Council and a further purchase of land by the South African Nature Foundation.

Said Park Manager Norman Johnson: “Through a progressive land acquisition strategy, the park has expanded to its current size of 88 000 ha from its initial 20 000 ha.  However, this is still not enough to re-introduce lions, cheetahs and wild dogs that once roamed these plains”

Johnson added that the lions were needed to naturally control the antelope numbers.  He added that the park was set to protect a representative area of the Nama Karoo as part of South Africa’s natural heritage.

The Karoo National Park is a treasure house of knowledge – it is one of the world’s most interesting arid zones.  It is considered to be one of the wonders of the world and provide many opportunities for visitors to acquaint themselves with the natural environment of the Great Karoo.

“The park serves as a reservoir for indigenous and endemic species and visitors are encouraged to experience and to learn to love the Great Karoo, its fauna, flora, scenic diversity and its essential wilderness” he said.

Among the key focus areas of the interpretive centre will be:

  • The geo-physical environmental development from five billion years ago to the present
  • The bio-physical environment – the evolution of flora and fauna in the region.  The Karoo is renowned internationally for its fossils and therapsids (pre-runners to dinosaurs)
  • The first nations peoples and their relationships with the environment
  • Early settlers and the impact they had on the land and the future
  • A special section to be devoted to the explanation of diversity and related issues that are appropriate to the Karoo.

****Ends****

Issued by:   Lulama Luti: Manager:  Media & PR
Tel: (012) 426-5203 or 082-905-4645

Enquiries:   Wanda Mkutshulwa: Head Communications
Tel: (012) 426-5201 or 082-908-2692

 

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