A Memorandum of Understanding in the interest of conservation was signed by South African National Parks and Wilderness Foundation Africa in the Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa on Tuesday, 18th August 2020.
These two organisations share a vision to enhance biodiversity conservation efforts and have worked closely over the years on various projects, providing support to conservation activities in and around South African National Parks. The MOU is designed to co-ordinate partnership activities to promote the system of national parks, responsible tourism and associated socio-economic development.
Through this MOU, SANParks and Wilderness Foundation Africa will focus on capacity building, protected area management and wildlife conservation activities with a specific focus in the areas of:
• Resilient landscapes
• Rhino conservation
• Innovative conservation finance
• Social and economic transformation; and
• Capacity development
SANParks CEO Mr Fundisile Mketeni said the formalisation of this partnership builds on a legacy of strong collaboration between our organisations ….”I am delighted to be here today to celebrate the partnership between SANParks and the Wilderness Foundation Africa”. Mketeni said that most national parks if not all are situated in already economically deprived areas – in the rural areas, where the communities are looking up to the national parks for survival through job and business prospects… “this partnership, therefore provides us with a great opportunity to lend a helping hand in this difficult and unpredictable time.”
“Accordingly we will continue to consult with our numerous stakeholders and seek out other areas within these communities where Covid-19 is having a detrimental effect and where SANParks can contribute,” added Mketeni.
An example of this partnership in action is the community support project implemented by Wilderness Foundation Africa, funded by the Oak Foundation and the Kolisi Foundation, and supported by SANParks. The project was started from the end June in order to provide much needed food support to local communities impacted by unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food parcels will be distributed to 500 families from communities in and around the Addo Elephant National Park for a period of five months. Wilderness Foundation Africa has close links with the park, with many graduates from their Youth Development Programme being employed in the Park in recent years. In addition to the food feeding initiative this partnership also recognizes the links between conservation and sustainable livelihoods, as such an information brochure are given out to all the beneficiaries of this project, detailing how to start a vegetable garden. Interested beneficiaries will be provided with seedlings and given assistance to start their own vegetable gardens. The two organisations also work closely on a range of conservation related activities in Addo including those related to rhino protection and population management.
Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa said “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected communities dramatically, with unemployment increasing and little or no opportunities for future employment for an extended period of time. Once the severity of the situation was realized, WFA immediately approached funders in order to establish this community support project. We are grateful to the Oak Foundation and the Kolisi Foundation for responding to our appeal and for their generous support”.
Photographs by Margot Muir