Marakele National Park’s partnership with Unisa’ conservation students yields results

SANParks’ vision is “sustainable national parks connecting to society” and one of the ways to live up to the vision is affording people an opportunity to learn and know about conservation in all of the parks.

In other efforts to realise this, Marakele National Park has partnered with the University of South Africa (Unisa)’s department of nature conservation to give them their practical sessions for their course modules. This is championed by the Marakele Conservation department, scientific services and BSP. Veld condition assessment, veld burning, alien plants control, soil erosion and game census amongst many other conservation related issues are some of the issues that they get to do practically.

Samuel Tompies, one of the students in the current group said “The contact session is interesting and meaningful even though I have been in the conservation industry for some time now being employed at Ai/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park which is part of the Arid region, so being in Marakele and having practicals done in the Savannah area has been an eye-opener and I am glad I registered with Unisa for the course”

Zamakhosi Mkhize echoed this “so far everything has been a great experience and one gets to have people that have years of experience in the field impart their knowledge to us, it also gives me an idea of where my career choice will lead me and I am looking forward to the challenges that conservation is ready to throw at me”.

This partnership has also inspired other employees in the Park as some have decided to register and further their studies in the nature conservation field, but above all some of the students have been employed in the Park as Environmental monitors, a great start for those who aspire to be rangers and grow within the conservation sphere.

The third group for 2017 which consisted of 57 students has just completed their session with two other sessions that took place earlier in the year and over 156 students benefitted from this in the year 2016.

Top Photo: Sidney Mikosi, who is based at Marakele National Park as Head Guide, in action. Sidney rose to fame when he won the national Lilizela Award in 2016. Most of the clients who have been on a game drive with Sidney describe him as the jungle encyclopedia. They say “his passion and enthusiasm always stand out whenever he is on duty and his knowledge unparalleled.”