Cape Town - Conservation heroes, many of whom risk their lives to protect SA's natural heritage, have been acknowledged and rewarded at South African National Parks (SANParks) Kudu Awards 2017 ceremony.
Held on Thursday, 23 November, at CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria, the 13th annual awards ceremony was hosted by SANParks, supported by Total South Africa and First National Bank (FNB).
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Fundisile Mketeni, SANParks CEO, says that 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’,” says Mketeni.
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Kgosi Ledimo, CEO of FNB Public Sector Banking, says that the Kudu Awards is vital in the preservation of the environment.
"It’s only through recognising people that are doing the hard work that we will see the success seen over the few years. Our involvement in these awards is also a way of adding our voice to signal the urgency with which we must respond to the threats posed to the environment. Going forward we hope to recognise more individuals that selflessly serve South Africa’s environmental challenges,” adds Ledimo.
Pierre-Yves Sachet, CEO and MD of Total South Africa, says that in 2018 Total and SANParks will celebrate 60 years of working together and many initiatives will be rolled out during the year.
Conservation heroes recognised
One of the most prestigious awards, the Lifetime Contribution Award, went to Ananias Jamie Mulhovo from the Kruger National Park.
According to SANparks, Mulhovo joined SANParks in 1971 as a General Worker in Technical Services. He was assigned to the Skukuza Camp maintenance team in 1998 "where he continued to serve the camp with distinction until his retirement last month".
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“When you enjoy your job like I do time flies. I cannot believe that I have been in the park for so many decades… seeing the lifetime achievement award and certificate is proof that I have received this prestigious honour,” says Mulhovo.
Two special awards went to Dr Freek Venter of the Kruger National Park and Ronnie Steinbrucker of Table Mountain National Park for the "massive impact they have had in their various operations of SANParks". SANParks says that they have spent over three decades each of unbroken and loyal service in the employ of SANParks.
Winners in other categories
Carlos Lopez Pereira from National Administration of Conservation Areas for support to anti-poaching efforts in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Business Partner of the Year
For best year-on-year business growth and financial contribution to SANParks, Lukimbi Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park was awarded the Best Business Partner of the Year for the 2016/2017 financial year.
Corporate Contribution (Non-Profit Making Organisation)
Cape Town Environmental Education Trust in recognition of the trust’s commitment and wide reach in developing young people and imparting environmental knowledge to different communities and schools in Cape Town and surrounds.
Environmental Media: Best Journalist
This year’s Environmental Media Award, Best Journalist of the Year went to Forbes African Magazine’s Jay Cabez for his contribution to the dissemination of environmental, conservation and eco-tourism information through the use of print media.
Community Contribution to Conservation
Twin Mosia from Elandskop Museum/ VKB, Free State in recognition of commitment and wide reach in developing young people and imparting environmental knowledge to different communities in Mamafubedu/ Pieter Stuyn and surrounds.
Vincent van der Merwe from Endangered Wildlife Trust for his contribution to conservation through the growing of the cheetah population in and outside the national parks system.
Women in Conservation
Petro Botha from Cape Town Environmental Education Trust for contribution to sustainable conservation of the fynbos through a ground-breaking research on using the Eland as a management tool (as opposed to fire) to conserve the vegetation of the Cape Flats.
Youth in Conservation
Gerhard de Beer from Starke Ayres Pty Ltd. for his contribution to conservation through sourcing of funds, volunteering for the rhino preservation as well as using personal time assisting in processing of rhino carcasses in the Kruger National Park.
Reginald Christiaan for his contribution to conservation through his Scorpion Project to raise awareness on the ecology and diversity of this understudied Arachnida fauna of the Namaqualand.
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Honorary Ranger Best Region of the Year
This is the SANParks Honorary Rangers - a volunteer organisation working in national parks. Awards and the first winner is the Diamantveld Region (small region), for achieving the highest growth rate amongst all 31 SANParks Honorary Rangers regions in the areas of membership growth, growth in transformation, environmental education and total contribution to SANParks.
Another winner in the category is the Lowveld Region (large region) for achieving the highest growth rate amongst all 31 SANParks Honorary Rangers regions.
Honorary Ranger Best Project of the Year
The second winner in the Honorary Rangers Awards category is the KNP Birding Weekend, for outstanding volunteer service by running 76 trails camps per year to raise funds for SANParks.
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Environmental Education/ Capacity Building Award
Mike Kendrick from Wild Shots Outreach Programme for his commitment and wide reach in developing young people and also imparting environmental knowledge to different communities and schools in Hoedspruit, Limpopo.
Nxanguyintswa Primary School (Limpopo) for the schools efforts to conserve the environment through practising organic farming in support of local communities and leading with greening projects.
Milo Primary School (Mpumalanga) for the schools efforts to conserve the environment through practising organic farming in support of local communities and leading with greening projects
Masoyi Home Based Care (Mpumalanga) for the centre’s efforts to conserve the environment through practising organic farming in support of local communities and leading with greening projects.
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SANParks staff members were also rewarded through the Chief Executive Awards, with a total of 30 awards given out in 2017.
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