David Mabunda, chief executive director of the Kruger National Park (KNP), reminded recipients and guests at the annual KNP awards ceremony of the never-ending search for and discovery of Kruger - " South Africa's incredible place of wonder and the world's greatest conservation template and every visit to Kruger constitutes a new discovery that is as vital and unpredictable today as it was at its founding in 1898," he said.
"We say Kruger was established in 1898 but in fact we have never stopped establishing Kruger; we are engaged in a process of continuous searching and discovering Kruger."
He says this is as true for a first time visitor as for a world-famous biologist.
"Kruger brings to mind the metaphors of growth and change; it is a process more organic than political; a crucible of ideas, ambitions, dreams, belief systems; a cultural, intellectual and spiritual crossroads at which we are forever debating which way to turn," he continued.
David believes Kruger has become a sort of university where staff and visitors are the students, and the landscape is the faculty of various study departments where an amazing array of human and scientific interests are tested. The KNP is of immense biodiversity and socio-economic value to the people of South Africa and the world.
"At any given date, when viewed from a distance, Kruger is complex, it is a place of great wildlife overwhelming contentions, nastiness and even hate but the search and discovery goes on and this complexity makes its management a very important task in the global agenda of biodiversity conservation."
He said the Kruger staff; from the Executive Director to the cleaner, from the General Manager to the security guard; from the traffic cop to the general labourer; from the scientist to the tourism officer must be commended for collectively helping to search and discover Kruger for its eternal protection.
"I find myself thinking of the search and discovery for Kruger in the first person, not merely because I take it so personally but because all of us are active participants in this process and as we approach the 2004 festive season and the New Year in 2005, I invite you to join me in the search and discovery of a Kruger that does not lose species or habitats or ecosystems.
I say "we" because at every stage of Kruger's lifespan there has been largely a reflection of or reaction to public attitudes. Kruger, like life, is not simple or simplistic. After a century of poking for the right direction we have come to realize that the park is a world laboratory pregnant with the most exciting and instructive adventures in a quest to understand this exasperatingly thing called nature."