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South Africans are urged to take advantage of the free access granted to the country’s National Parks during SA National Parks Week which runs from 16 – 24 September 2023.
“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,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy.
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 will again host pupils, pensioners, persons with disabilities and many others. In order to qualify for free entry, all South Africans are encouraged to carry their identity documents; children below the age of 16 will not be required to provide identification.
“Since the inception of the South African National Parks Week in 2006, more than 619 292 South Africans, who may not otherwise had an opportunity to visit a national park, have participated,” said Creecy.
“I am pleased to note that National Parks Week has gripped the imagination of some of our provincial conservation authorities, with the Limpopo Tourism Agency and North West Tourism and Parks Board joining to host Mahala Week where select game reserves in the provinces are offering free access as well.” she added.
Conservation and the protection of our country’s rich biodiversity is a commitment we cannot avoid, especially as we work to expand our conservation estate in order to meet international commitments and protect our natural world in a sustainable manner for current and future generations, emphasising the importance of popularising our national and provincial parks.
Under the established theme Know Your National Parks – this year’s SA National Parks Week campaign kicks off in the Kruger National Park. This world-renowned Park is not only South Africa’s first national park but is also the largest spanning 19 458 square kilometres. The Kruger is the sixth-largest national park in Africa and not only boasts the iconic Big Five alongside a wide variety of wildlife and plants but is also home to unique landscapes and biomes.