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Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP)*: Together with all categories of staff in the department and our entity Ezemvelo Wildlife, we join millions of conservationists and nature lovers in observing World Rhino Day.
As we observe World Rhino Day, we must celebrate our strategic asset, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP). This is the ‘birthplace of rhino’, situated in northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
Having interacted with Game Rangers, I wish to once again thank them for their conservation efforts.
In particular, we have responded with speed to a call by Indlulamithi – ISILO Misuzulu kaZwelithini to ensure that surrounding local communities are integrated into the operations of the game reserves through new local boards.
On the 15th and 19th September 2023 Ezemvelo finalized the launch of the following local boards - Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, Ithala Game Reserve, Ntsikeni Nature Ndumo Game Reserve, Tembe Game Reserve and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park.
It is our considered view that the tension that existed between our Ezemvelo and surrounding communities will be the thing of the past.
The ANC government is demonstrating its resolve to ensure that traditional leaders and their communities inherits natural resources and the wealth from the land of their forefathers.
Our nature reserves are the only hope of rural communities that live under the yoke of poverty. We will never betray them.
We thank ISILO for the guidance and for ensuring that we do everything in the interest of his people.
Gone are the days when our protected areas were like islands conserved for the benefit of only those who could afford to visit them.
The Local Boards are governed by Chapter 5 of the KwaZulu Natal Nature Conservation Management Act No. 9 of 1997. According to the Act, the local boards' duties include:
• compiling and monitoring the implementation of the management plans;
• promoting the objectives of the protected areas and
• promoting educational programmes related to nature conservation.
The long-term plan is to use the portion of the revenue generated through conservation services to implement viable projects based on the needs of local communities.
In addition, we want local communities become owners of nature conservation and all tourism products and services. This is the surest way of ensuring that they enjoy the fruits of this democracy.
We commend management for speeding up the fencing project at HiP. This has resulted in the employment of 50 local people.
Despite the shoestring budget of R7 million, the erected fence will cover an area 11km long from White Mfolozi to Thokothi Stream. The procurement process for the service providers who will fence the Mfolozi side of HiP is in the final stages.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment committed more than R40 Million to fence HiP. Minister Barbara Creecy appointed iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority as the organisation overseeing the procurement process.
Finally, last week I was interviewed on Ukhozi fm’s Breakfast Show as the station’s presenters and management spent the week there. Since the day, we have been inundated with calls from nature lovers and ordinary members of society. They can’t wait to embrace the beauty of nation in our game reserves.
The national and international anti rhino poaching organizations have offered to continue to work with our entity Ezemvelo Wildlife in fighting wildlife crime. High Commissioners, Ambassadors from many countries have also offered to invite businesses from their respective countries to consider investing in eco-tourism products and services for the benefit of local communities.
Issued by KZN MEC for for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma