Kruger National Park - South Africa

Nelspruit - The parliamentary portfolio committee on environmental affairs concluded a three-day fact finding visit to the Kruger National Park on Friday, it said in a statement.

Chairman Jackson Mthembu said the committee gained first-hand experience of the “sterling work” of the SA National Parks (SANParks), the SA National Defence Force, police and others in the fight against rhino poaching.

“The rhino is not only a part of our natural and cultural heritage, but is also a key component of the big five tourism product, which underpins the tourism economy in the lowveld areas of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.”

The Kruger National Park was also important as thousands of people were dependent on it for their livelihoods, he said.

The committee visited the “intensive protection zone” of the park using a helicopter for the first time, which was bought through a grant from the Howard Buffet Foundation.

The new helicopter had advanced navigation systems that enhanced the park's operational capability.

Chairman of the SANParks board Kuseni Dlamini said the board believed the committee had gained understanding about problems the Kruger National Park faced in fighting poaching.

“We appreciate the ongoing support we are receiving from the Portfolio Committee and recognise that interactions such as these play a major role in boosting the morale of the men and women who are engaged in the fight against rhino poaching on a daily basis.”