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24 March 2024
The National Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy is a hands-on Minister, these sentiments were echoed by the communities and stakeholders who attended public meetings recently held by the Minister at various venues in communities neighbouring iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This two days visit was Minister’s follow up visit to see for herself the progress made on various projects implemented by iSimangaliso during the 2023/2024 financial year. These projects and programmes benefit thousands of people and helps to alleviate poverty in uMkhanyakude District which is known as one of the poverty nodes in the country.
The engagements included the issues that concerns farmers, fisheries, and the wellbeing of neighbouring communities. She was elated on the St Lucia estuary updates, Mr Craig Edgar affirmed the wonderful work done with regard to the management of Estuary mouth, Mfolozi and Msunduzi rivers. He mentioned that, on the 25th of March 2024 the report is envisaged to be in the office of the Minister. After that, they believe the dredging process will commence which would mean farmers would be able to farm this year. The Minister met with various beneficiaries and stakeholders to get their opinions and concerns.
Mr Bukhosini (CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park) addressed the meeting on the purpose of Ministers visit. He commended stakeholders for working together with iSimangaliso towards sustainable conservation and ecotourism. Mr Bukhosini said that a lot of ground has been covered in ensuring that the existence of iSimangaliso and its conservation work benefits communities neighbouring the park. Several projects and programmes on the ground benefits communities namely: EPWP with 2000 employees currently on the ground, 200 Groen Sebenza Interns spread out at various critical areas, 130 Environmental to mention a few. These programmes would help to change the socio-economic status of the surrounding communities in various ways. This is over and above many other programmes currently running such as the Bursary programme, SMME programme etc.
The Minister also briefed the media on the rhino poaching statistics for the year. Citing that, 499 rhinos were lost in South Africa in the year 2023. Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park recorded high number of rhinos poached, out of 499 rhinos lost, 307 were gun down in Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. Devastating number of rhinos poached concerns the Minister. However, iSimangaliso Wetland Park recorded no rhino poaching during that period. It is believed that working in harmony with adjacent communities is key to curbing poaching. Mr. Mkhize (CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) talked about Ezemvelo’s plan to conduct random joint operation with communities and low enforcement agencies as part of pro-active interventions to mitigate rhino poaching incidents.


Statement issued by iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority
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