2 lodges won't destroy Kruger - SANParks

Pretoria - SA National Parks (SANParks) chief executive David Mabunda on Thursday dismissed reports that the development of two luxury lodges would spell the end of the Kruger National Park.

Mabunda, who was addressing a National Press Club briefing in Pretoria, said the development of the proposed Malelane and Skukuza safari lodges would leave a smaller human footprint than a spread-out rest camp.

He said that SANParks generated 80% of its own income.

The Kruger National Park and four other parks were "profitable parks" which cross-subsidised SANParks' other 16 parks.

"These parks generate income and we should continue to look for alternatives [of income generation], but this will not be done in such a manner that would damage the ecology," said Mabunda.

Human activities

He said the international norm was for 10% of a wildlife conservation area to have infrastructure, including accommodation and roads.

Currently, the Kruger National Park was way below that norm with only 6 285ha of infrastructure including roads. He said 0.3% of the park's area was dedicated to human activities.

"There is no over-development in the Kruger," said Mabunda, adding that there was "not a chance" that a hotel similar to the Sandton Sun would be built anywhere within the confines of the park.

The Beeld newspaper earlier this month quoted a former park head Dr Salomon Joubert as saying that if the two hotels were built, it would be "the end of the park".

"Such a park will set a precedent which will change the whole character, ethos and the original aim of the park," he said.

Mabunda said one of the two developments would replace a hotel that burnt down six years ago. The two projects were being built by a consortium led by the international hotel group, Radisson, and were expected to open in 2013.

SANParks would receive 6% of the turnover generated by the project and, after 30 years, would take full ownership.

Mabunda said there were no further developments planned for the park.

"We do not intend to over develop our parks," he said.
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