Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park takes an “Earth Hour”
by Cathryn Gill, GVI Intern 2007, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) celebrated Earth Day 2007 with an “Earth Hour”. An Earth Hour is one hour of an evening where everyone in a community turns off all electricity including all electrical equipment. In this one hour we can reduce our energy consumption and, thereby, our carbon emissions substantially.
"We wanted our Earth Day celebrations to be not only informative but include actions", explains Cathryn Gill, who works with the People and Conservation department at KTP, "so besides putting up an eye-catching display at the information centre at Twee Rivieren, we plunged the whole park into darkness for one hour on Sunday evening in an attempt to raise awareness about our energy consumption, reduce our carbon emissions and make people aware of what it will be like when we have exhausted all our energy resources".
The Earth Hour concept was pioneered by the Sydney Morning Herald which organised a Sydney-wide Earth Hour in Australia on the 31 March 2007. The concept is that individuals, companies and governments should be doing their bit to promote action against climate change and related global environmental issues.
The week before Earth Day saw the People and Conservation staff busily cutting and wrapping candles in brown paper info sheets tied with string for each chalet, campsite and staff house in the 3 main rest camps of the Park: Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob. The info sheets gave details of the Earth Hour concept, when the Kgalagadi Earth Hour would take place and general energy saving tips for the home. Each tourist coming in that day was also issued with a star chart for April’s night sky.
At 20h00 all the electricity in the 3 main camps was switched off until 21h00. Everyone was encouraged to spend some quality time with friends and family by candlelight. Each camp was encouraged to provide an activity during this hour and star-gazing was emphasized. In the staff village at Twee Rivieren, there was much singing, poetry reciting and guitar playing, candle-lit dinners and the Women’s Club sold 200 pancakes during the hour of darkness.
While this event was specifically arranged for Earth Day 2007, we can all contribute towards making every day an Earth Day. Now where did you put those candles...