This open letter to the SAN parks Board of Directors is a serious effort to call them to review their policy of expansion. Although these are my words, they reflect the feelings of many hundreds of thousands of South Africans, some of who have asked to review it before I published it here. I do not doubt that this Letter will quickly be censored off the SAN Parks Forum, but this would not be wise as my words here only echo those already extensively discussed on other Forums including Facebook, 4x4 Community, Hilux 4x4 Forum, Pajero Forum, the various sightings groups, and several overseas and local tourism discussion groups.
A wise man listens to what his clients have to say:OPEN LETTER TO THE DIRECTORS OF SAN PARKS:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen
National Parks were initially founded to maintain parts of our country in their original state for prosperity: that means that they are meant to be in exactly the same condition in 2000 years and 4000 years from now for South African citizens OF ALL RACES of that time to appreciate. These RESERVES are for them to understand what Africa looked like before the times of urbanization and development!
This establishment was:
1. The fundamental reason these reserves were proposed and protected by Paul Kruger and other wise men of that time;
2. The intention of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Amendment Act 31 of 2004; the National Environment Laws Amendment Act 14 of 2009; and the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Amendment Act 15 of 2009. (These Acts were not the ONLY rule to be followed, they were established as a guideline to be used in the case of conflicting opinion.)
3. Affirmed by The Earth Charter created by the Independent Earth Charter Commission, as a follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit and formally endorsed by thousands of organizations, including UNESCO and the IUCN (World Conservation Union), and subscribed to by SAN Parks!
4. A socialist philosophy supported by the vast majority of all races of citizens of South Africa.
As the South African Government dictates these above Acts and Laws, and the Government has a responsibility to preserve all aspects of our heritage for Prosperity, to be appreciated in its ORIGINAL STATE, and so the SA GOVERNMENT has a responsibility to FUND the absolute majority of that preservation. It is a NATIONAL HERITAGE: The whole nation should contribute to it’s preservation as a much larger part of the NATIONAL BUDGET, not just the visitors.
Unfortunately as these Acts are legal documents, not philosophies, they were not created to highlight the fundamental SPIRIT and REASON why the world as a whole creates reserves and protected wilderness areas: they may only specify the legal aspects. These Environmental Acts are not the entire “charter”.
The South African National Parks:
1. Should NOT be required to provide the bigger share of that funding; (currently SAN Parks is 80% self-funding!)
2. Should NOT cut up sections in piecemeal and the perimeter 3km be “sold off” to concessions for “Recreational Use”. (With an inner South African border of 520 km, the Revised Zoning Plan adopted recently will forfeit nearly 1500 of KNP’s 18 989 sq km, and this excludes the private hotel concessions who have already consumed significant areas with their infrastructure and game-viewing tracks clearly visible on Google Earth. )
3. Should NOT be used as a fund-raising operation where the values are sacrificed in order to raise funds in order to survive financially.
4. Should NOT be seen as a commercial enterprise in the form of more roads, private lodges and the proposed Malelane hotel project for the exclusive use of rich minority and the executive board members, and for the financial benefit of a very few already rich investors.
It is just this perception that has encouraged poachers on the boundaries, and business entrepreneurs to perceive that the National Parks, (including rhino horns ) is “FOR SALE”. Poor villagers on the perimeter cannot afford to visit these rich havens and now scorn them, and instead HONOUR the poachers who bring rhino horns and cash-flow to their communities.
The SPIRIT of why National Parks were established is what should be seen as THE BOTTOM LINE! It seems to me that the Directors of SANParks and Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourism have totally lost the plot of WHY RESERVES WERE FOUNDED. Almost every visitor to the Kruger National Park, and scores of people who don’t, can see that our leaders and administrators lack insight and wisdom by allowing themselves to be so easily influenced by narrow-focussed researchers and the money-hungry TOURISM MACHINE. Instead of seeing the errors of the past developments, and attempting to reverse these mistakes, they say “hotels have already been approved in the past” and then canvass for EVEN MORE tourism!!
THE FUNDAMENTAL “WILD” IS WILD NO LONGER….it is fast becoming a “Gold Reef City” funfair. In a recent visit to Ireland, people I spoke to there say it will soon be no more than a “Disneyworld theme park”. They no longer want to come and see it as they feel it is no longer a wilderness, but now “an exclusive collection of expensive tourist hotels and open jeeps in a bunch of traffic jams not unlike Cape Town”
Once the areas have been encroached upon, and the soil turned, and bricks laid, that land has been inhabited, and from this THERE IS NO RETURN. Once you build lodges, you have to support them with staff and associated infrastructure…..the origin of entire towns!!ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO ALLOW THIS?
I do not ask for a verbal reply. I beg you to search and discuss it within yourselves, and hope that in time, we will be able to see nature return to this once wilderness.
Dr. Kevin Azzie