SANParks new vessel deployed to keep the Knysna estuary safe. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - SANParks has unveiled its latest tool to battle poaching and protect the biodiversity of the Knysna lagoon and estuary. 

It launched its new 5.8m Infanta rubber duck called iLindile (it waits), powered by two 60 horsepower, four-stroke motors. 

The vessel's main purpose is to tackle environmental crime. 

Park Manager for the Garden Route National Park, Paddy Gordon said the Knysna estuary was recently declared as South Africa’s top estuary in terms of its rich biodiversity. 

"It rakes in billions for property agents of people who buy along the water body for its sense of place and is a huge spinner for tourism for water activities," Gordon said.  

Independent researchers Barry Clarke and Jane Turpy said the estuary is home to 43% of South Africa’s plant and animal life and supports rare fish species such as the grunter, white steenbras, dusky cob and cape stumpnose. 

Knysna’s estuary alone contributes some 21.6% of the total economic value of the country's 249 estuaries.

"The vessel was SAMSA certified under Category C, meaning it complies with all safety requirements and has equipment to enable it to go out to sea and assist other stakeholders if necessary," senior section ranger for Knysna Marine, Owen Govender said.

"The vessel will be used for various reasons such as compliance monitoring patrols, maintenance, research (internal and external researchers, local and international), rescue operations and will assist other stake holders such as the NSRI and the police."

One of the top environmental crimes in the estuary is people collecting bait illegally.

[email protected]

Cape Argus