KwaZulu-Natal conservation body Ezemvelo and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority say they have prepared themselves for the re-opening of several parks and game reserves to visitors and hikers. The national lockdown, which was announced over two months ago, led to the shutting down of many sectors including tourism, to curb the spread of the COVID 19.
Following an announcement by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane that some parts of the tourism sector will be opened to boost the economy, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has been gradually opening some of its Game Reserves in line with the COVID-19 regulations. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Spokesperson Musa Mntambo says their staff members have been trained to ensure that all level 3 regulations are followed.
“We would be able to receive funds from our gates because the past two months have been very difficult for Ezemvelo because we are part of tourism. There was no activity taking place inside our parks. We’ve only opened 16-game reserves including those that belong to iSimangaliso. We have made sure that all our Reserve staff have PPEs and also we are continuously cleaning all our ablution facilities for this who will be entering our Game Reserves at any time. For now, Midmar Resort, which was supposed to have opened, will only open next week Monday,” says Mntambo.
Chairperson of the Mountain Backpackers Club Heidi Cox says they will be prioritising health and safety in hiking.
“We’re really pleased to be able to get back out into nature reserves again full-time to Spring, we can enjoy those natural areas again, obviously responsibly and we doing our best within the club to make sure that members hike responsibly. There must be compliance with all the rules when they do go hiking again. By nature hiking can be a social distance activity and obviously lots of fresh air in the process helps along with the exercise to improve health.”
Meanwhile, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority CEO, Sbusiso Bukhosini, says the reopening of the park will also benefit the locals.
“The activities that are taking place there in the main as in line with the regulations is recreational fishing, we do not allow the charter fishing. Self-drive excursions are also allowed. Day visitors only. Beach walks and swimming are also allowed. Automatically when we reopened and there are visitors who are now coming back into the park it means that those who are also selling whether it’s fruits or vegetables, crafts, they are also going to benefit and there will definitely be spin-offs for local communities.”
However, accommodation facilities remain closed to the public.
In the video below, is a reminder of what awaits prospective travellers to the province: