Media Release: KNP Takes Eco-Tourism Skills to the Community
The Kruger National Park (KNP) Managing Executive Dr Bandile Mkhize today (Friday, October 12, 2007) announced and committed KNP to supporting a community based eco-tourism business situated south of the park near Kaapmuiden.
“After representatives from the Libuyile Community Trust approached us, a task team consisting of KNP officials was set up to go an investigate the existing land to determine the feasibility of what can be done in that specific area.” said Dr Mkhize.
Libuyile Community Trust recently won a land claim on three properties on the southern side of the Crocodile River, two of them with conservation potential.
One property is an 18 000ha property south of the N4 called the Libuyile Game Lodge Farm which already has a game lodge. Already the KNP task team has advised Libuyile Community Trust to begin with operations with Open Safari Vehicles and to acquire permits to be able to extend these operations into the southern area of the Kruger National Park to capitalize on this market niche.
“Our research has shown that poaching is also rife on this property, so we are going to help facilitate the training of some of the younger men of the community in anti poaching techniques,” Dr Mkhize added.
Bush encroachment and alien plants are two other challenges identified when the KNP task team visited the property recently. A solution to the bush encroachment – which has been identified as Sickelbush – would be to create a business opportunity where this wood is converted into firewood and/or charcoal, for which this bush is ideal.
Once the bush encroachment and poaching issues have been addressed, the KNP will consider helping restock the farm with game.
“This is truly a win-win situation with the community’s obvious benefits being a working eco-tourism business and our benefit being another area under conservation along our boundary with the long term possibility of more land being added to the KNP,” explained Dr Mkhize.
“We have more than a hundred year’s experience in the field of conservation and have been running a tourism business since 1926 so there is no reason why we cannot share this knowledge with our communities living adjacent the Kruger National Park in order to help build South Africa’s economy and uplift previously disadvantaged communities,” continued Dr Mkhize.
Community involvement is a key focus area of South African National Parks (SANParks) and it is the responsibility of the KNP’s People and Conservation Department to involve itself with the communities surrounding the park. It does this with community forums, economic programmes (eg curio selling) and training (eg the KNP’s Contractor Development Programme).
Raymond Travers, Media Relations Practitioner, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4116, cell: 082 908 2677 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Mabasa, HOD: Public Relations and Communications, Kruger National Park. Contact: Tel: 013 735 4363, cell: 082 807 3919 or email: email@example.com