South African National Parks (SANParks) yesterday signed a partnership agreement with Welgevonden Game Reserve (WGR). “The partnership comes at an opportune time to effectively enhance security, address socio-economic challenges and bolster development opportunities,” says Janine Raftopoulos, Head of Corporate Communications for SANParks
Welgevonden is a key ally for SANParks more especially in their efforts to proactively monitor access and egress of both vehicles and people through various points within the Greater Marakele Security Cluster (GMSC). The Welgevonden Game Reserve is a privately-owned reserve and has been proclaimed as a Protected Area in terms of the National Environment Management: Protected Areas Act (No. 57 of 2003).
The objectives of the partnerships are:
1. Environmental protection, by developing and coordinating capabilities which exist within SANParks, Marakele National Park (MNP) andWelgevonden for the protection of the local communities, land owners and all species of fauna and flora, by enhancing the effectiveness of management authorities and resources;
2. Address socio-economic challenges and prospects in local communities around MNP and Welgevonden, where poor conditions are further impacted by established and developing criminal networks;
3. Collaborate to enhance fundraising and development of future joint fundraising resources and capabilities, specifically from well-established NGO’s associated with the parties.
4. To enhance existing and new economic activities carried out by the parties. These economic activities involve the sustainable utilization of land and resources within the MNP and Welgevonden.
“Strong initiatives and substantial resources have been allocated and committed by both SANParks and the private sector, to enhance social-economic upliftment, and in so doing, we are able to empower local communities and leverage them to be part of the solution in tackling issues of poaching and crime which are a threat to the biodiversity of MNP and Welgevonden,” adds Shaun McCartney, Chief Executive Officer of Welgevonden Game Reserve.
"The sustainability of the substantial economic activity that the conservation and eco-tourism (hunting and photographic) industries have created, together with the related employment and other economic opportunities for local communities, rests on the security of the greater area."