Pretoria: South Africans with valid Identity Documents will as from today until Friday be able to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.
The South African National Parks (SanParks) today launched the National Parks Week in Maphungubwe in Limpopo.
The week-long campaign, giving free access to the national parks, will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park and Namaqua National Park.
According to SANParks Acting Head of Communications Paul Daphne the objective of the week is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, under the established theme “Know Your National Parks”.
The idea of a national parks focus week was conceived in 2006, after a realisation that a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks.
SANParks then embarked upon this campaign to encourage all South Africans, especially those from the communities around the parks, to share in what SANParks envisions to be “the pride and joy of all South Africans and the world”.
Young persons under the age of 16 will be allowed free access without the requirement of proof of identity. It must be noted that the free access to the parks will not include any commercial activities in the park such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks, etc.
“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.
“We especially want our young people to take advantage of this opportunity because this heritage will be under their protection in the near future,” added Daphne.
SANParks encourages all South Africans and especially educators and school groups to diarise these dates and plan a visit to a national park nearby.