Address by SANParks Chairperson, Mr Kuseni Dlamini to the media

Jul 23, 2014

Ladies and gentlemen of the media thank you kindly for honouring our invitation and also showing interest in the affairs of South African National Parks. This meeting aims to put in context important aspects of SANParks affairs and please take note that this is based on facts.

First of all, we are a public entity and accountable to the South African public. Based on that fact we have always been upfront in taking the public into our confidence on matters pertaining to South African National Parks. Over the last 19 years this organisation has performed exceptionally well achieving clean audits year after year. Good corporate governance has been the cornerstone of this organisation and continues to be at the forefront of our daily operations.

South African National Parks has on its books a number of service providers, whose relationship is governed by legal agreements. Pathfinder is but one of those service providers. Their contract was legally terminated after SANParks reviewed the service they were providing. Affordability is one of the key considerations in continuing with services of this kind, followed by value for money. All those factors were considered when terminating their relationship with SANParks, remembering that the organisations’ mandate is that of conservation, we continue to believe that issues of law enforcement should be left to relevant authorities, however we believe we also have some role to play in this.

Our studies indicate that measures that have been put in place in the fight against rhino poaching are beginning to show results. The increase in the arrests and the successful prosecutions, bare testimony to the enormous efforts by our Rangers Corp working in partnership with various law enforcement agencies. SANParks is encouraged by the heavy sentences handed out by the courts in recent times and the work done by the police to gather irrefutable evidence to enable prosecutors to argue for those heavy sentences.

Given what we have alluded to above, it cannot be true that the war against rhino poaching is being lost. In actual fact there has been a concerted effort to intensify the protection of our country’s heritage – the rhino. It is critical to note that conservation is a science and science is not static. SANParks in its operations applies a principle of adaptive management, which speaks to research informed by various methodologies and world best practices.

SANParks is proud  of its cutting edge best practices when it comes to science research and all its operations are informed by long term peer review driven results, therefore speculative suggestions that the methodology used in the recent census of rhino species is inaccurate is not true. Kruger National Park has got a strong and viable rhino population. The latest official census on rhino populations will soon be released and the public will be informed of its results. It is safe to say that the previous census of 2010 which was peer reviewed, showed that there is an estimated rhino population of between 8,500 and 12,000 in the Kruger National Park not the 7 000 and 7500 which has been mentioned. The public must appreciate that we cannot hold a census every year because of the enormity of this project.

As mentioned above, SANParks is guided by proven scientific research when taking decisions on rhino and other management matters. It has been widely reported that there are plans to remove or relocate 500 rhinos from the iconic Kruger National Park. This is wrong and grossly misleading.  There are no approved plans to do that.

In closing, SANParks goes to move from strength to strength. In fact today was the official opening for the 2015 bookings and we are very confident of the growing interest from local and foreign tourists to visit our parks.  We had a very successful June holiday season this year and hope to do even better next year.   We have an Acting CEO supported by a competent and capable executive management team and great and committed teams across all our parks doing great work for SANParks and South Africa at large.

Thank you!

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