Mavuso Msimang has quit the South African Parks Board after six years as chief executive to take up a senior post with another government organisation.
From October he will head the State Information Technology Agency, which has experienced continuing leadership problems.
Msimang, acknowledged as a driving force behind the successful commercialisation of the parks, said that his decision to leave was sparked by the prospect of a new career challenge.
He denied his resignation had to do with criticism of his commercialisation policies, or with his involvement in a private company managing troubled parks throughout Africa.
"I was headhunted and saw it as a great new challenge," he said.
Msimang, the former head of SA Tourism, is a non-executive director of the private commercial company, the African Parks Management and Finance Company, which has acquired the rights to run parks in Zambia and Malawi.
The company was the brainchild of Dutch businessman and philanthropist Paul von Flissengen, who was passionate about conservation.
"The group he assembled believes that struggling parks throughout Africa will have a better chance of survival if properly managed," Msimang said.
He said there was no conflict of interest with the parks board as the company dealt with parks in other parts of the continent.
Furthermore, he had declared his interest to the South African board.
Murphy Morobe, chairperson of the parks board, said the board had no problems with Msimang's directorship of the company as it had been declared.
"He's a man of conviction and great passion. I must say we have had one of the best working relationships with the chief executive. Everything he has done has been transparent. He will leave behind a legacy to be admired," he said.
When Msimang assumed the post six years ago, the park was operating at a loss, but it has moved onto a level of profitability due to his commercialisation initiatives.