Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has recently announced the proposed creation of two new national parks, both in the Eastern Cape. One will preserve the Wild Coast area in Pondoland, while the other is near Graaff-Reinet.
Seven erven near Graaff-Reinet, forming the 14,500ha Karoo Nature Reserve, have been donated by the World Wide Fund for Nature – South Africa. This donation is valued at more than R23 million. Van Schalkwyk said, “Our vision for the future is ultimately to link our new national park with the Mountain Zebra National Park – creating a unique African Karoo wildlife experience and protecting a huge diversity of plant and animal species.”
The minister credited Dr Anton Rupert as being “instrumental in driving the vision of a national park in this area.” The name of the new national park will be decided through a public participation process.
The process for the creation of the second national park is not yet as far advanced, but Minister van Schalkwyk has announced, “Anyone who has spent any time at all on the Wild Coast knows the power of this place.
It captures the spirit of untamed mystery, combines it with untouched majesty, and presents it through landscapes or unrivalled natural splendour. It is our intention to protect this unique heritage for our generations to come by proclaiming a new national park in Pondoland.”
Building on the Pondoland Marine Protected Area that was proclaimed last year, the minister has said, “Instead of the standard ‘Big Five’ concept we will forge a unique combination of wildlife viewing, beaches, marine and estuarine escapes in close conjunction with African cultural heritage.”
The next step in the process of creating the new park will involve ‘comprehensive’ public consultations. Eastern Cape Premier Balindlela has said that the eco-tourism potential of the Wild Coast is a key component of the province’s 10-year strategic development plan.