South Africans to enjoy free access to national parks

South Africans to enjoy free access to national parks

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy has urged South Africans to take advantage of the free access granted to the country's National Parks during SA National Parks Week.

annual SA National Parks Week will run from 11 to 16 September 2022
annual SA National Parks Week will run from 11 to 16 September 2022. SANParks / Benita Immelmann

National Parks Week runs from Saturday until Heritage Day.

Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, Creecy said the aim was to allow people to enjoy their natural heritage, especially communities that are bordering the protected areas, as they might not ordinarily be able to afford the general entry fees.

"National Parks Week is an ideal opportunity for us to introduce the majesty and beauty of the country's national parks to the people, especially to communities who seldom get to experience and enjoy these areas of conservation, cultural heritage and biological diversity, right on their doorstep.

"The free access offered through the South African National Parks (SANParks) system is aimed to inspire people to take pride in the country's cultural heritage while spending time in and with nature. Elderly people who have lived all their lives next to a National Park without ever seeing what is on the other side of the fence must be taken in their thousands to go and visit their neighbouring National Parks."

SANParks CEO Hapiloe Sello says several safety measures have been implemented at the Numbi Gate to the Kruger National Park.

The area hit the headlines following the death of 75-year-old German tourist Jorg Schnarr, who was gunned down by armed hijackers near White River in Mpumalanga in October last year.

"With regard to the Numbi gate, which is a very unfortunate incident. Our law enforcement personnel have jurisdiction up to our borders inside and within our borders. but we work collaboratively because this is a matter that impacts on the park in terms of its reputation,” said Sello.

"We work collaboratively with SAPS, together with an initiative that was launched by the public sector to assist with tightening security in that area. The partnership is with the Lowveld Chamber of Commerce, which is made up of businesses in the Lowveld area together with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. They have put a number of patrol cars in that area of the Numbi Gate. We have seen a significant decrease in the number of crimes that do not even get to the papers.

"We have also received feedback from the communities to say that this is beginning to impact safety generally for the community itself, not just for the tourists. So, this collaboration is working, and we are very happy about it. As much as we don't have the boots on the ground, we are collaborating, and we are part of a committee that meets often to discuss these matters."


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