By Michele Hofmeyr
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is right in the heart of Australia. Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock) is a massive red rock rising out of the Australian outback desert and is a sacred place for the Aboriginal people. The national park is 1325 km2 and is a major tourist attraction.
The distinctive red rock rises 348m above the desert plain and is 860m above sea level. It is also a special world heritage area that is valued for its landscape, flora, fauna and for its rich living culture.
Rowan Foley from Parks Australia is the park manager for Uluru and during a recent trip to SA, he met with staff from Scientific Services to discuss issues around park management. Often conservation issues are similar, even across continents, and Rowan gave a brief summary of his park management report which included surveys on endangered species such as skinks and the mala (a small kangaroo-type animal) and monitoring invasive species such as rabbits.
These are issues that Kruger Scientific Services staff also have to deal with, although with obviously different species. The ranger work in Uluru involves a wide range of tasks including recording and monitoring rock art, gathering oral histories, flora and fauna surveys, weed and water management, feral animal control, controlled burning, morning and evening patrols and responding to emergencies.
Tourists are permitted to climb to the top of Uluru and often fall or get into difficulties. Rangers are fully trained in rescue procedures including abseiling and vertical rock rescue techniques. The park is jointly managed by ANANGU traditional owners and the director of National Parks and is recognised as a World Heritage Area.
It is one of the few properties in the world listed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organisation (Unesco) for its outstanding natural as well as cultural values. As Uluru is a sacred site, aboriginal people have been living in the area and are managed as part of the park.
The management plan for the park is reviewed every seven years and Rowan is responsible for implementing the plan of management, board decisions and the day-to-day management of the national park.
Rowan also met with Rene Travers from KNP Tourism and Marketing to discuss the new Sunrise Visitor facility that is currently being built in Uluru at a cost of AUS $21 million.
“We can learn so much from speaking to each other about conservation and development issues“, said Rowan “I have found my visit to Kruger very worthwhile and I look forward to staying in contact with the people I have met in Scientific Services.”