Saving a species

2014-11-30 15:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nature conservation veteran Fundisile Mketeni will officially become the chief executive of SANParks on Tuesday. He chatted to Herman Jansen

What is the one thing you hope to accomplish at SANParks that would make you feel your run was successful?

To reduce the number of rhinos that are killed.

What are your most important immediate priorities?

To accelerate interventions against rhino poaching, especially in the Kruger National Park.

And in the long term?

To establish SANParks as a leading private company – nationally, regionally and globally. We should ensure that science remains the cornerstone regarding decisions about park and species management and we need to attract more visitors to increase the national park’s income.

You are just back from the decennial World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia. What remains with you?

My conversations with park heads from all over the world (there were 1?400 delegates) on how parks can help mitigate the impact of climate change and help reduce the carbon footprint.

How do you feel about the possible legal trade in rhino horn?

It has to be considered to reduce poaching. Species around the world have become extinct because of illegal trade, but at the same time, others have survived because of well-regulated and monitored trade.

Some activists claim that the rhino horn stockpiles in Skukuza should be burnt.

Why? I cannot destroy something that the country has kept secure over many years. Those who advocate destroying these stockpiles must take into account the level of risk. It can make the horns rarer and could cause serious unintended consequences.

In July last year, only a handful of the estimated 1?400 nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) who claimed they collected money for rhino conservation attended a meeting you had arranged.

[It was] just 23. It is extremely confusing to donors as hundreds of NGOs say they are collecting money for the benefit of rhino conservation.

There are many opportunists?

Yes, it came out clearly at the meeting. There are well-respected, well-known organisations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Peace Parks Foundation. But there are many I absolutely know nothing about. About 100 such NGOs are now registered at the department of environmental affairs.

So there are still therefore about 1?300 that are not monitored?

It may now be even more.

Doesn’t the Kruger National Park have too many elephants? Should they be culled?

The question is not whether there are too many elephants, but their impact on the landscape. Their concentration in parts damages the ecosystem on which other key species depend. Our management team will talk about culling.

What are the world’s three most critical environmental issues?

How are we going to handle the conflict between the human footprint and nature? How are we going to harness science to give policy direction? How will we manage and improve ecological infrastructure and make it relevant to economic development?

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.