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Media Release: Minister Proclaims New Marine Area for Addo Park & Opens New Camp to Benefit Local Communities

Date: 4th April 2005

Speaking from the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) the Minister announced both the addition of the St Croix and Bird Islands to the park, as well as the opening of the new Matyholweni Rest Camp, with local communities set to benefit directly both from the revenue generated, and from the greater influx of tourism to the expanded park.

Statement by the office of Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, on 3 April 2005

Minister Proclaims New Marine Area for Addo Park & Opens New Camp to Benefit Local Communities

Conservation, eco-tourism, and economic growth in the Sunday’s River region of the Eastern Cape was today given a double-boost by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism.

Speaking from the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) the Minister announced both the addition of the St Croix and Bird Islands to the park, as well as the opening of the new Matyholweni Rest Camp, with local communities set to benefit directly both from the revenue generated, and from the greater influx of tourism to the expanded park.

New Addo Islands Bring ‘Big 7’ Together

“Visitors to Addo will now be able to experience, for the first time ever in South Africa, the Big 7 in one conservation area,” said Minister Van Schalkwyk. “The allure of the traditional Big 5 will be bolstered by the extra attraction of Southern Right Whales and Great White Sharks – creating a uniquely marketable environmental experience.”

The new marine region, officially proclaimed by the Minister in the Government Gazette on Friday, also cements the park’s eastern boundary in Algoa Bay, providing critical protection to the internationally important populations of Cape Gannet and African Penguins. “This initiative adds a new habitat to South Africa’s most ecologically diverse park,” said Dr. David Mabunda, Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks (SANParks), welcoming the move.

Speaking about future tourism and conservation strategies for the region, Minister Van Schalkwyk added: “The proclamation of these islands is a key step in our plan to proclaim a larger Marine Protected Area in Algoa Bay, which will link the islands to the mainland in a single continuous conservation area through to the Darlington Dam in the western extension of the park. It also brings the islands’ threatened Perlemoen stocks under the control of SANParks, which we believe will boost enforcement, clamping down on poaching.”

R6,5m for New Camp “In the Bush”

Camp Matyholweni, named after the Xhosa expression for “in the bush”, is a 12-unit rest facility in the new southern block of the park. It was also officially opened by the Minister on Sunday. The construction of the new camp was made possible by a R6,5 million poverty relief grant by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

“People must be at the centre of our environmental equation,” said the Minister. “Conservation is most sustainable when it is linked to the development of communities.” The Mayibuye Ndlovu Development Trust – a community forum representing eight communities surrounding the park – will receive between six and twelve percent of the gross revenue generated by the new rest camp.

“We will use these funds to finance much-needed community development projects”, said Zolile Lose, Mayor of the Sundays River Valley Municipality, and chairperson of the Mayibuye Development Trust. Park Manager, Lucius Moolman, added that the new partnership would be a further step in cementing the SANParks commitment to local community empowerment.

“Not only will Camp Matyholweni benefit local communities, but it will also offer visitors to the park a greater variety of accommodation and travel options,” said Dr Mabunda. The 12 chalets are placed within a secluded valley, surrounded by pristine thicket and a wealth of birdlife. Two of the fully-equipped chalets are specially designed to accommodate disabled visitors.

The new rest camp is situated close to the town of Colchester at the Sundays River mouth. Access from the N2 highway will provide visitors with an alternative entry point to the park. A new access road to the park has been constructed, and will be opened to visitors late in 2005, linking the new camp to the existing tourist roads in the park and allowing visitors to drive from Colchester to Addo through the park.

Enquiries:

Riaan Aucamp (Ministry) – 083-778-9923
Megan Bradfield (Addo) – 083 650 8649

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Additional background on the new camp

The AENP first constructively began to engage with the neighbouring Nomathamsanqa community in 1993, resulting in the creation of the Addo Liaison Committee, which later became the Mayibuye Ndlovu Development Forum, for the purpose of communication and accruing benefits to the community. In 2000, the Forum was restructured into an effective People and Parks Forum, including all eight communities neighbouring the AENP, the local government and local tourism forum.

Subsequent to the revenue sharing agreement, workshops were held to formalise the Forum into a legal entity, which would allow efficient flow of funds. The Mayibuye Development Trust was formally registered in March 2005.

Although this area of the park is already populated with wildlife such as bushbuck, kudu and smaller antelope, future plans include the introduction of large game including elephants, buffalo, zebra and other antelope. Wildlife introduction will only take place once electrified fencing around this new area has been completed within the next two years.

The return of elephants to this area will be something of an historic moment. When the Addo Elephant National Park was first proclaimed in 1931, the small herd of elephants – 16 in total – that had escaped the hunters’ guns had to be herded from an area close to Matyholweni – the farm of Mr Harvey – into the newly-proclaimed park area.

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