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Media Release: Kudu Awards Celebrate Conservation Giants

18 October 2015

According to Mr Fundisile Mketeni SANParks CEO, the Kudu Awards is a an important initiative that recognises internal and external stakeholders for their contribution in making South African National Parks the custodian of choice for the national parks system in South Africa. “These awards honour people for their meaningful contributions to the protection of the environment through various means which reflects society’s admirable social responsibility - giving meaning to the SANParks vision of ‘A Sustainable National Parks System Connecting Society’.”

Mr Danny Zandamela, CEO FNB Public Sector Banking one of the sponsors, added that this awards programme  is  fundamental to the practice of recognising, acknowledging and praising the people who have, over the years, created and maintained a conducive and enabling environment for nature conservation projects to be managed effectively. He further expressed that the individuals that have been recognised are at the forefront of inspiring, educating and mobilising their peers through their commitment to environmental issues.

Speaking at the same event the General Manager Strategy at Total South Africa, Ms Pansy Mekwa said as proud partners, these awards acknowledge and celebrate the brave and pioneering people who ensure that conservation remains a priority and that they inspire and remind us through their work how important it is that we all care for the natural world. “At Total SA our mission through this partnership is to highlight the importance of conservation and to instil a culture of pride in our natural heritage and a sense of responsibility for its ongoing preservation.”

As part of the awards the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms. Edna Molewa bestowed a Lifetime Contribution Award to James Mokoena from Golden Gate Highlands National Park, in the eastern Free State. Mokoena joined Golden Gate in 1975 as a hut attendant making 40 years of service to SANParks. He was defined as a person of integrity who performs his duties to the best of his ability even when nobody is watching.

Winners of the 2015 Kudu Awards in the respective categories are:

Associated Partners:
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Northern Cape, were recognised for the enormous support in tourism development projects in the national parks located in Northern Cape. Business Partner of the Year: Lukimbi Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park for the best year-on-year business growth of all the Public Private Partnerships and for their financial contribution to SANParks.

Corporate Contribution (Non-Profit Making Organisation):
The Wild Dog Advisory Group of South Africa (WDAG-SA) is the winner of this award for the management and conservation of the endangered African Wild Dogs for over 17 years. Through WDAG-SA there are 300 more wild dogs in South Africa. The Howard G Buffet Foundation, a USA based philanthropic organisation was acknowledged for the biggest funding in anti-poaching operations in the Kruger National Park. SANParks anti-poaching operations was a beneficiary of a R254 million which assisted in the procuring of additional high tech and anti-poaching arsenal such as the purchasing of two aircraft with a night flying capabilities.   

Environmental Media: Best Print Journalist/ Best Electronic Journalist/ Best Publication, Programme or Website:
This year’s Environmental Media Award, Best Print Journalist of the Year went to Saturday’s Star Sheree Bega. For her consistent commitment and dedication to various environmental and conservation issues in her reporting. In the Best Electronic Journalist of the Year, Bonne de Bon from 50/50 won in recognition of her passionate, balanced reporting on wildlife conservation issues and keeping the public updated and informed about environmental issues in South Africa.   For the best publication/ programme/ website award Bonne de Bon and Susan Scott received the award for the body of work on 50/50 and Kyknet’s Groen which consistently provides in-depth reporting on rhino poaching issues and creates awareness in the local communities about the impact of rhino poaching to conservation and tourism.

Individual Contribution:
The Cape Town based Lindelani Mjexane from the Beyond Expectation Environmental Project, was recognised for his dedication in educating children on the importance of nature conservation. His project has educated 7500 children so far in Table Mountain National Park.

Community Contribution:
In this category, the Limpopo based Mothopong Community Project won for their efforts to conserve the environment through practising organic farming and removing alien invasive plants. They also play a role in eradicating poverty through donating produce from their gardens to poor households, crèches and schools in Lebowa Kgomo, Limpopo. 

Honorary Ranger Best Region of the Year:
This is the SANParks Honorary Rangers (a volunteer organisation working in national parks) Awards. This year’s winner is the Marakele Region, for achieving the highest hours of voluntary service, year on year growth in transformation, environmental education, membership growth and total contribution to the SANParks cause.  Marakele region is a small region, but has shown the true spirit of selfless service in support of our national parks, which defines the culture of the SANParks Honorary Rangers movement.

Honorary Ranger Best Project of the Year:
The second winner in the Honorary Rangers Awards category is the Sand River bush camp. Sand River is a volunteer run wilderness trails camp in Kruger National Park.  The SANParks Honorary Rangers run two camps per week hosting eight paying guests on walking trails.  The honorary ranger members are volunteers, who aim to help sustain conservation in our national parks.  The funds raised are used to support Kruger National Park through the Parks Wish List system.  Because of the high standard of guest satisfaction achieved, Sand River bush camps are fully sold throughout the year.

Environmental Education/ Capacity Building Award:
The Johannesburg based Delta Environmental Centre received the Environmental Capacity award for their commitment to impart environmental knowledge to different communities and schools that they come in contact with.

The Awards evening also saw SANParks staff members being rewarded through the Chief Executive Awards. A total of 25 Chief Executive Awards were given out this year ranging from the Shield Award, Best Customer Service, Best Constituency Builder, Best Ranger Post, Best Performing Camp, Best Performing Park of the Year, Best Customer Service, Excellent Performance in the workplace, Overall Best Performer, Best Performing Division, Leadership Award, CEO Special Award to the Website Community Choice Award.

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Corporate Communications
Tel: 012 426 5170

Reynold “Rey” Thakhuli
Acting Head of Communications, SANParks
Tel: 012 426 5203 cell: 073 373 4999

Nonkosi Dyantyi
Corporate Communications Manager, Total South Africa
Tel: 011 778 2144; Cell: 082 783 0436

Patty Seetharam
Senior Communications Manager FNB
Tel: 087 312 4639

Gabrielle “Gabby” Venter
SANParks Manager: Media and Stakeholder Relations
Tel: 012 426-5065 cell: 083 825 9435

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