Andrew Zaloumis. Picture: Mercury Archive

The Department of Environmental Affairs has announced that Andrew Zaloumis will no longer occupy the position of iSimangaliso Wetland Park chief executive.

The department said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that under his tenure, Zaloumis had pioneered and institutionalised development-focused conservation at the park.

Examples of this development-focused conservation, said the department in a statement, due to the restored eco-system, were the recent reintroduction of game last seen a century ago on the banks of St Lucia; the separation of commercial forestry plantations from the park as a way of ensuring that the two businesses operated without negative impact on one another; and the systematic rehabilitation of the Eastern and Western Shores of iSimangaliso.

“Much of this work has been undertaken using labour-intensive methods, creating a significant number of temporary jobs in the area.”

They said a total of 87 young people had received support for their university studies; some 3000 crafters, artists, and tour guides had been trained to support the continuously growing tourism industry in the area; and 215 small businesses had received mentoring and support.

The department said he had been instrumental in the establishment of the park and its transformation into a “renowned and world class conservation tourism destination” that now occupied prime status as a World Heritage Site.

They also said Zaloumis, who was completing his studies in Sustainability at Cambridge University, had been an "outstanding leader" in the field of conservation for over 20 years

No reason was given for his departure.

The Mercury