Now in its twentieth year as South Africa’s first and most diverse UNESCO World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso is extremely proud of its legacy as a provider of quality environmental education for the youth surrounding the Park. Many learners who first visited the Park in the early years have gone on to explore careers in fields relating to or supporting our conservation efforts – some of them with the assistance of iSimangaliso bursaries, and several of whom now work in the organisation. One of these ‘iSimangaliso graduates’ is Sifiso Vumase, our Environmental Education Officer, whose passion and depth of knowledge of the natural environment is evident in the way he addresses every visiting group.
“This financial year (since April 2019) has been an exceptionally busy one,” says Sifiso, palpably delighted at the opportunity to introduce even more young people to the wonders of his beautiful place of employment. As of the end of September, 4181 learners from 96 schools had already crossed the Park entrance grid on a voyage of discovery, only halfway through the year. “For many, it is their very first experience of the protected area and ocean that lies so close to their own homes,” he adds.
Most of the visits take place on the Eastern Shores section, enabling a sample of terrestrial as well as marine life in close proximity. Occasional trips are also offered at the Sodwana Bay and uMkhuze sections of the Park.
“I am delighted to see such progressive achievements with regards to exposing our local school children to the Park”, says iSimangaliso CEO Sibusiso Bukhosini. “Through this, we believe that our young people living adjacent to the park will grow up with a better understanding of conservation, thereby continuing to ensure meaningful contribution towards biodiversity conservation!”