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Media Release: Securing the future of SAâs natural heritage through SANParks Week 2008

26 August 2008

The South African National Parks (SANParks) will officially launch the 2008 week-long celebration of access to parks by South Africans, i.e. SA National Parks Week in the Cape Region, on the 22nd of September. Access to most parks will be free from 22 - 26 September 2008.

This concept was launched in 2006, to encourage all South Africans to visit National Parks, out of the realisation that the majority of this country’s citizens were not accessing parks.

The official launch of SA National Parks Week will take place at the West Coast National Park, one of the four national parks in the Cape Region and while the focal point for the week-long project will be the Cape Region, most of the other parks managed by SANParks will be participating in the free access initiative. However two of our parks, Namaqua and Boulders at the Table Mountain National Park will apply ordinary access tariffs, because of the short flower season at these parks, and including that SANParks Week coincides with the only time in the year that these parks are able to engage in commercial activities, to ensure their sustainability. As such, normal gate tariffs will apply at the three above parks.

The objective of SANParks Week is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, under the established theme “Know Your National Parks” and the feature element of the project is free access to all South African day visitors (especially people from communities around the parks) carrying an official Identity Document, while scholars and young persons under 16 years of age, will be allowed entry, without the requirement for proof of identity.

It should be noted that free access to parks will not include any of the commercially driven activities in parks, such as Open Safari guided tours, etc, as these are driven as commercial vehicles to ensure the sustainability of parks, with some run independently by commercial tour operators.

Chief Executive of SANParks Dr. Mabunda said the “SA National Parks Week offers an opportunity for all South Africans to experience their national parks and to then develop a sense of pride which culminates to renewed and improved efforts by all South Africans, towards taking care of the country’s conservation resources...Through this project, we also aim at building stronger constituencies and ambassadors of conservation and the environment”.

“The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa and this year we are focusing on involving young people and communities, to cultivate a knowledge of the importance of conservation and an appreciation for the country’s natural heritage”, added Dr. Mabunda.

SA National Parks Week is an opportunity to showcase all national parks as key and affordable local holiday destinations, offering a unique experience, especially for families. We encourage all South Africans to take this opportunity to experience an encounter with wildlife.

The core objective of SA National Parks Week is to establish a partnership with all South Africans, towards creating a flagship international parks resource, which attracts both local and international interest, a product that we can conserve for future generations.

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks)

Thamsanqa Mthembu:
GM: Media Relations & Events
Tel: +27 12 426 5203
Cell: +27 84 214 1975

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