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Media Release: SANParks CEO opens state-of-the-art Educational Centre in Marakele

20 June 2011

The Thutong Environmental Education Centre was made possible by a generous sponsorship of R 7,9 million from Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust (SIOC-cdt) in partnership with Anglo America’s Kumba Iron Ore.

Speaking at the official opening of the centre, Dr Mabunda said this centre would serve as an epitome of change and will continue to act as a melting pot where young people can gather and share ideas on environmental challenges and opportunities. “It will act as a tool that will enhance the mitigation of the effects of climate change in our society.”

He said the national parks system provides an excellent opportunity for enhancing knowledge in environmental issues. “This centre comes at a time when the global community grapples with the effects of climate change and global warming due to the greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.”

According to Dr Mabunda poverty and inequity contributes substantially to environmental degradation “therefore it becomes imperative to develop an environmentally literate cadre of learners and educators to combat the negative impact on the environment at the areas.”

He said the best way to get young people to understand and have respect for the environment in conservation areas is to start by making positive and visible changes in the environments where they live. “It is also encouraging to see corporate South Africa purposefully collaborating with public sector institutions in efforts of educating our youth in environmental issues.

“This contribution has also seen the employment of about 50 people during construction, therefore assisting in addressing the socio-economic challenges in the area.”

"As a mining company one of our key sustainable mining pillars is environmental management. We are fully committed in ensuring that minimal impact is caused to our environment. We are therefore very proud to support an initiative of this nature through Marakele in our area. We strongly believe that the Centre will go a long towards leaving a legacy for our future generations," said Cornelia Holtzhausen, General Manager at Thabazimbi Mine.

Marakele is situated in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains and conserve the most important species; like the yellowwood (National tree); protea trees; Waterberg cycad and many other wild animals including black and white rhinos; giraffes and zebras.

The centre will boast 16 rooms and 6 in-suite rooms to accommodate both teachers and learners. The centre also has an auditorium that can accommodate up to 140 people during environmental education workshops and functions. The Thutong EE centre is one of the nine EE centres in National Parks around the country. 

Issued by:
Cassius Selala: Communications Officer, South African National Parks, Tel: (012) 426-5195 or 078-223-6682, E-mail:

Reynold Thakhuli: General Manager Media; Events and Stakeholder Relations, South African National Parks, Tel: (012) 426-5203 or 073-373 4999, E-mail:

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