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Media Release: Karoo National Park opens new road and education centre

Date: 2008-10-03

Sprightly young dancers from Nelspoort kicked off the celebrations on Thursday 2 October as the Karoo National Park opened a new tourist road, environmental education centre and celebrated the completion of a new predator-proof fence line.

Speaking at the celebrations, South African National Parks (SANParks) Managing Executive: Parks, Paul Daphne, thanked the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT) for facilitating the new developments through the Expanded Public Works poverty relief programme.

“Job creation and accompanying skills development was one of the primary aims of these projects and this has had a significant impact on communities in a region which has been identified as one of the Presidential poverty nodes in South Africa”, said Daphne.

A total of 435 people from local communities were employed on the roads, fence and education centre projects over a period of three years during which just over R28 million was invested. Daphne added that one of the ways in which the Park benefits local communities is by growing the tourism economy in the region.

As Daphne and the Executive Mayor of Beaufort West Municipality, Juliet Jonas, cut the ribbon to officially open the new 45-kilometre tourist road, Park Manager Mzwandile Mjadu explained that the road would open up a new area of the Park to visitors, enriching their experience.

Named the Potlekkertjie Loop, after the local name for one of the common lizards in the Park, the road takes the visitor through the Park’s western region.

With the flick of a switch, the Executive Mayor later activated the newly completed predator-proof fence line which spans some 138 kilometres around the Park. The fence line has been erected ahead of the Park’s plans to introduce cheetah and brown hyena within the next two years.

With the new road and completed fence line, SANParks hopes to encourage visitors to spend two to three nights in the Karoo National Park, instead of the traditional one-night stopover.

The celebrations culminated at the opening of the new Grantham Environmental Education Centre. The centre, a restored farmstead which can accommodate up to 50 children, currently plays host to the “Kids in Parks” environmental education programme, sponsored by SANParks, DEAT, the Department of Education and Pick ‘n Pay.

“The Grantham Environmental Education Centre will hopefully become a popular venue for both school groups and community groups in the future, a place where they can experience the tranquility of the Karoo and the wonders of our natural heritage”, said Park Manager, Mzwandile Mjadu.

The Karoo National Park covers almost 90 000 hectares of land and is home the country’s largest herd of endangered Cape mountain zebra, as well as black rhino and various antelope species such as eland, gemsbok, klipspringer and springbok. The Park is well known for its rich fossil record and boasts a wheelchair-friendly Fossil Trail.

Issued by:
South African National Parks

Megan Taplin
Regional Communications Manager
Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra National Parks
Tel: (042) 233-8609 or 083 650 8649

Mzwandile Mjadu
Park Manager: Karoo National Park
Tel: (023) 415 2828 or 076 836 3580