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06 December 2023

Popo Scott Honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 17th Annual SANParks Kudu Awards

South African National Parks (SANParks) supported by TotalEnergies and First National Bank (FNB) recognised deserving conservationists at the 17th Annual Kudu Awards ceremony held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on 30 November 2023. The event brought together distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation of our natural heritage.

The Kudu Awards and the Chief Executive Awards recognise SANParks employees as well as multiple stakeholders and disciplines who play a pivotal role in strengthening conservation in South Africa.

In a momentous highlight of the evening, Oom Popo Scott (Posthumous) was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award, a well-deserved acknowledgement in recognition of his invaluable work ethic and tireless efforts in contributing to the management of the Tsitsikamma Section of Garden Route National Park as well contributing to the establishment of the famous Otter Trail and a host of tourism products for a period lasting 45 years of unbroken loyal service to South African National Parks.

Popo Scott was just a 14-year-old child when he was picked up on the side of the road after a long walk from school by the then-park manager Warden of Tsitsikamma National Park and was instantly employed as one of the General workers in the early 1960s.

Oom Popo Scott built the Otter Trail and one of the famous huts on the trail is named after him “Scott”. He built the network of trails including the boardwalk to the suspension bridge with recycled plastic as day trails.  Tourism facilities such as campsites, various viewpoint decks, chalets and access roads and the first restaurant that burned down at the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park were also built by Oom Popo with his hands without appropriate equipment.

Ms Vuyiswa Radebe, Regional General Manager for the Garden Route National Park expressed gratitude to the late Popo Scott, stating, “Oom Popo Scott’s lifetime of dedication to conservation exemplifies the spirit of the Kudu Awards. His commitment to the environment has not only contributed to the success of SANParks but has also inspired a new generation of conservationists.

The Park Manager for the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park, Mr Victor Mokoena also conveyed his appreciation for the significant contribution made by Oom Popo Scott to the global tourism product (Otter Trail), which has drawn numerous people from around the world. “Indeed, SANParks is privileged to acknowledge and celebrate his accomplishments, bestowing upon him the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Otter African Trail Run walked away with the best Associate Partner of the Year Award. They are recognised for their contribution to SANParks Otter Trail Run business through nature-based activities in the Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden National Park. Ms Joslin Bauer won the Women of the Year Award and Nature’s Valley Trust and Nature’s Valley Rate Payers walked away with the Community Contribution to Conservation Award for their commitment to environmental stewardship and through nature-based activities in Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden National Park.

The Awards evening which also included the Chief Executive Awards recognized the dedication and selfless efforts of SANParks employees towards achieving the goals of SANParks’ mandate. Ms Phumla Nyathikazi, Socio-economic Transformation (SET) Officer for the Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park won the Best Constituency Builder of the Year Award, Ms Nerina Kruger, Science Liaison & GIS for the Garden Route Scientific Services Unit walked away with Excellent Performance in the Workplace Award and Tsitsikamma Section of the Garden Route National Park won the Best Ranger Post of the Year Award for the second time in a row. They won the same award at the 16th Kudu Awards.

TotalEnergies and First National Bank (FNB), as sponsors of the SANParks Kudu Awards, reaffirm their commitment to supporting initiatives that promote environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. Their partnership with SANParks underscores the importance of corporate responsibility in safeguarding the natural treasures that define our nation.

“The Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Oom Popo Scott serves as a reminder of the impact that individuals can have on the future of our planet. As we honour his legacy, we are inspired to continue the collective effort to preserve and protect the biodiversity that makes South Africa truly extraordinary. Congratulations to all the winners of the Kudu Awards and Chief Executive Awards,” concluded Radebe.