SANParks grants free access to national parks

By Charmaine Zulu

Mbombela - From Monday to Friday next week, all South Africans can spend a day at one of the country's national parks without paying an entry fee as part of the Know Your National Parks campaign.

South African National Parks (SANParks) will allow locals with valid South African identity documents to enter any park managed by it completely free of charge, with the exception of Boulders in the Table Mountain National Park, and Tankwa Karoo and Namaqua national parks.

According to SANParks' general manager of media relations, Reynold Thakhuli, the campaign's objective is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans with regards to the country's natural, cultural and historical heritage.

"The idea of a national parks focus week was conceived in 2006, after we realised that a vast majority of South Africans was not accessing the national parks.

"SANParks then embarked on this campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what we envision to be the pride and joy of all South Africans and the world," said Thakuli.

"Environmental education and protection is the responsibility of everyone, not just a privileged few. If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such," he added.

Children younger than 16 will be allowed free access without having an ID document.
"We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future. We encourage teachers and school groups to diarise these dates and plan a visit to a national park nearby," said Thakhuli.

He added that the free access did not include any commercial activities in the parks, such as guided safaris or walks.

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