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Local communities, educators and learners in and around Cradock will know Mountain Zebra National Park’s (MZNP) People and Conservation Officer, Mxolisi Fulumente for being the link between them and the Park. It seems the Chief Executive Officer of South African National Parks (SANParks), Mr Fundisile Mketeni, also now knows exactly who this shy young man is after bestowing on him the Chief Executive Award in the category Best Constituency Builder at this year’s 12th annual Kudu Awards.

The awards ceremony, also known as the Oscar Awards for Conservation, took place at Gallagher Estate in Gauteng on Friday 19 November 2016, in partnership with Total SA and First National Bank.

Speaking at the event, Mketeni said the Kudu Awards recognises internal and external stakeholders for their vital contribution in making South African National Parks the custodian of choice for the national parks system in South Africa. “These awards honour people for their meaningful contributions to the protection of the environment through various means which reflects society’s admirable social responsibility – giving meaning to the SANParks vision of ‘A Sustainable National Parks System Connecting Society’.”

In nominating Mxolisi initially for a Regional Award, which he won in September, Park Manager, Megan Taplin, said “Mxolisi has performed excellent work to successfully connect a variety of stakeholders and constituencies with SANParks during 2015/16 financial year. He is able to engage effectively with a wide range of different types of stakeholders to ensure that they understand and support the aims and objectives of SANParks and Mountain Zebra National Park. He is able to respond to queries and concerns of the Park Forum members, engage ward councillors effectively to ensure mutually beneficial relationships with the local communities and engage school learners to ensure that they learn about all that the Park has to offer and why conservation of our heritage is so important.”

She said despite being a “one-man team”, Mxolisi manages to cover all aspects of effective stakeholder engagement and environmental education. He also manages to assist colleagues in other aspects of conservation, tourism and administrative work in MZNP. He is always willing to assist, no matter what the job, to ensure that MZNP operations run effectively, she said.

Other winners from the Frontier Region of SANParks (made up of Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Garden Route, Karoo and Mountain Zebra National Parks), were: The Karoo Lion Search Team who successfully returned the escaped “Sylvester the Lion” back to Karoo National Park on two separate occasions received The Shield Award (for Bravery). This award is bestowed on a group or individual who has shown extraordinary bravery to save a colleague, tourist or any person or animal’s life under any circumstances, with specific reference to work related situations. MZNP’s Ranger Corporal, Surprise Mlambo, spent 24 days assisting them in their search effort, and was a part of the team who accepted the award on Friday evening.

Another Karoo National Park staff member, albeit a newly retired one, Anna Kamfer, won the prestigious Lifetime Contribution Award, for her 38 years of service to the organisation. This award goes to a staff member who has made a significant contribution to SANParks over an extensive, unbroken career. Anna began her part-time career at SANParks in 1976 as a hut attendant in the old Kalahari Gemsbok Park now known as Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, before being permanently employed in 1978. In 1999 she moved to Karoo National Park with a promotion to Rest Camp Supervisor, a position she’s been filling with great professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication ever since.

In the category Excellent Performance in the Workplace, Garden Route National Park’s Marine Biologist, Kyle Smith, received recognition for his outstanding work over the past financial year. This award is based on excellent performance beyond the normal call of duty depicted by the use of innovative and creative measures in meeting organisational objectives where in certain cases it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the relevant objectives.

The fifth award, for the Best Performing Division/Business Unit, will take pride of place in Addo Elephant National Park as won by its Game Drives Department. This highly efficient and profitable business unit plays a significant role in generating very important revenue for both the Frontier Region and SANParks as a whole. In the SANParks Tourism category “Highest Activities per 100 Overnight Guests” this business unit was classified in the Park Category as the second best of all national parks and came in at first place in the Camp Category.

Regional General Manager, Dries Engelbrecht, said he was exceptionally proud to work with such a high calibre of staff. “These employees are a good example of the quality of staff we have working in our national parks. Their dedication, passion and loyalty is evident in everything they do, and receiving these awards will go a long way in not only motivating them to carry on in this fashion, but also see their colleagues striving for better. I am very proud of them, as well as all our other staff members who were nominated,” said Engelbrecht.


Mountain Zebra National Park’s (MZNP) People and Conservation Officer, Mxolisi Fulumente with his trophies

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