In its 2004/2005 annual report, SANparks highlighted a number of milestones achieved during the year. Cheryl Carolus, chairperson of the board, congratulated management and staff with the year under review and on receiving an unqualified audit report.
Amongst other issues, Carolus and David Mabunda, chief executive officer, drew attention to the pending land claims affecting SANParks and its intention to continue working closely with the Land Claims Commission in speeding up the process."....SANParks's leadership has in the past, and is currently still, applying its mind and taking note of all that is at stake.
This includes the issue of biodiversity management as well as the human angle of the resolution of all land claims within protected areas." South Africa is regarded as part of the 'mega-diversity" realm, being the third most biologically diverse country in the world - after Indonesia and Brazil. Managing biodiversity remains a priority with the other key business pillars of eco-tourism and constituency building (people and concervation).
In the 2004/5 financial year, SANParks acquired 27 698ha land at a cost of about R53 million. These were obtained from government grants, the SANParks Park Development Fund and donor money. About 41 percent of the land acquired is in the nama biome, 37 percent in the succulent karoo biome and 12 percent is lowland fynbos.
SANParks plans to acquire approximately 34 500ha of land at R51million. These acquisitions will focus on the Tsitsikamma, Addo, Tankwa and Marakele areas. The Kruger National Park (KNP) reported concerns about the state of the Olifants, Letaba and Crocodile Rivers in the Park.
The process of establishing Park forums, as important platforms to enable community and stakeholder participation, received considerable attention. This included the drafting of terms of reference that guided the establishment of 14 park forums to date. Kruger has seven forums that facilitate cooperation with 188 villages bordering the Park.
Several joint projects have been undertaken with the arts and crafts at Phalaborwa, Kruger and Numbi gates generating R631 122 for the relevant communities. Two car wash programmes at Skukuza and Satara generated R46 078 for the community representatives who operate them. The Kids in Kruger project hosted 434 learners and 16 educators from eight primary schools.
More than 900 people visited the Thulamela heritage site, more than 2000 learners and 235 educators visited the Far North region. Many of the other SANParks activities focused on the youth, notably the R21million Kids in Parks programme, the Morula Kids competition (drawing 6000 entries) and increasing the Junior Honorary Rangers to 210.
The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) contributed to capacity building initiatives such as the emerging Contractors Development Community Fencing project in Kruger. The 2001-2005 EPWP cycle was finalised at the end of March 2005.
SANParks submitted a new R328 million project proposal that was approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEAT) and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (Dwaf). These started in April 2005.
More than 3,4 million people visited SANParks during the year under review. Kruger hosted 1 285 232 guests compared to the 1 336 981 in the 2003/4 financial year. The Wild card, launched in 2003, earned a revenue of over R27 million during the year under review with 82 000 cards sold.
The Wild card contributed about R17 million to the net profit for the current financial year, an increase of 89 percent. It has been four years since SANParks awarded 12 concession sites and outsourced 19 shops, 17 restaurants and four picnic sites to private operators.
According to the report, 12 concession sites are currently fully operational and of the remaining four, one is partially operational, two are conducting environmental impact analysis and one is under construction.
By dropping the concession fee commitments to concessionairies, SANParks introduced a relief mechanism enabling the concessionairies to adapt to fluctuating market conditions. "While this has led to a cinsiderable drop in the income for 2005, it is anticipated that the benefit for SANParks in the long term will surpass the initial decline in concession fee."
In Kruger, several tourism facilities were upgraded. These included the renovation of Nshavu guesthouse at Olifants, the fish eagle guest house, four A-circle bungalows and two family cottages at Letaba and the guest house at Mopani.
Other projects comprised the re-thatching of the Phalaborwa Club and family cottages at Mopani, new and additional ablution facilities at Olifants camp, the Olifants trail camp and Crocodile Bridge and the replacement of the swimming pool surface at Mopani.
New staff units at Phalaborwa and a linen room at Sabie were finalised. The construction of Povert Relief Programme funded housing units were completed at Malelane and Numbi gates, Pretoriuskop, Berg-en-Dal, Biyamiti and Lower sabie.
Turnover increased to R419,34 million compared to R392,62 million the previous year, representing an increase of 6.8 percent. The increase is mainly from daily conservation fees representing a full year as opposed to 10 months on 2003/4.
SANParks realised R40,05 million income before investing activities compared to R36,33 million in the previous year. The main contributing factors were
The improvements are offset by