South African National Parks (SANParks) partnered with non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) and local Government to deliver food parcels and water tanks to vulnerable communities during lockdown. George-based NGO, Ithemba Lobomi, worked closely with SANParks to assist vulnerable child headed homes in Wilderness, George and surrounds.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ithemba Lobomi, Sharon Hendriks, says the need in the area is massive and resources are scarce, hence the need to work together to find creative solutions.  Speaking at the Regional launch of SA National Parks Week in Wilderness, Hendriks said solutions begin with individuals and emphasized the importance of mental health, especially within our youth.

Socio-Economic Transformation (SET) Officer for Wilderness, Phumla Nyathikazi says the partnership with organisations such as Ithemba Lobomi and others in Wilderness, is part of SANParks’ effort to reconnect society. It has been observed that great things occur when such partnerships are tested.’

General Manager of the GRNP, Vuyiswa Thabethe, opened the Garden Route Park gates to the South African community to the GRNP, re-emphasizing the significant role played by National Parks in providing spaces for distressing, to enjoy and to connect spiritually.

She also said the corona virus largely had a negative impact but lockdown presented opportunities to embrace our social and technological abilities. ‘We now use digital platforms to connect. SANParks (Garden Route) also launched virtual tours for week where visitors will have a glimpse of the various Parks through such a platform.’  She further urged young people in attendance at the launch of the free access week in Wilderness to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

Also speaking at the Wilderness event was George Tourism CEO, Joan Shaw, who said the impact of the pandemic on tourism in the Region was unfavourable but lower hanging fruits were to maximize products that are safe and adhere to lockdown regulations. SANParks is one of the large players in the Region providing accommodation and various activities to visitors.

South African National Parks (SANParks) in the Garden Route is using the free access SA National Parks Week campaign funded by FNB and TotalSA to ‘reconnect society’. The week-long campaign launched by the Minister of Environmental Affairs in the West Coast, started yesterday the16th November – 20th November 2020.


This article was published in partnership with Media Xpose.

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