250 people walk 20km for wildlife
ABOUT 250 people participated in a 20km walk from Legkraal to Molorwe in the Pilanesburg National Park to raise awareness on the need for transformation in the wildlife sector.
The participants included rural, environment and agricultural development MEC Manketsi Tlhape, head of department Poncho Mokaila and other senior managers in the department, friends of Mebala Ya Rona, environmental clubs and individual members of the community.
The walk preceded a two-day Mebala Ya Rona conference at the Bakgatla Resort in the Pilanesberg National Park.
The department is using the Mebala Ya Rona initiative to drive the provincial government’s five concretes meant to prop up the North West economy.
Tlhape said the quest to rebrand, reposition and renew the province would succeed through the Mebala Ya Rona initiative.
She said her department would like to create much-needed awareness of the province’s heritage park corridor, its rich biodiversity resource, the ecotourism potential and the prestigious culture of communities around it.
In her 2017-18 budget speech earlier this year, Tlhape said the heritage walk would be used to bring about a community-based ecotourism drive that would not only expand the value of the local economy but act as a significant buildup to the Mebala Ya Rona biodiversity conference.
Speaking before the heritage walk, Tlhape said the initiative was part of the department’s efforts to “work in partnership with the industry and the general public to find measures and tools for effective transformation of our biological capital into goods and services for socio and economic development”.
She said transformation in the wildlife sector was a necessity and had since been identified as the cornerstone for economic growth and sustainable development.
“As one of the most biologically diverse countries, this has posed a challenge to the country to establish mechanisms in which its biodiversity can be sustainably used to contribute towards addressing the vicious circle of the three economic ills facing the country, which are unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“This ultimately contributes towards the economic growth of the province,” she said.
Biodiversity management director at the department, Jonathan Denga, said he was delighted at the turnout for the heritage walk and the support from stakeholders relevant to biodiversity transformation.
“The weather was not impressive, but we managed and the journey has been exciting,” he said.
Tlhape was among those who completed the 20km walk.
Participants were in high spirits and said they were looking forward to the 2018 walk that was said to be a staggering 128km long. At the end of the walk at Molorwe, those who managed to cross the finishing line earned the inaugural Mebala Ya Rona heritage walk medals.
Plans are under way to hold a second Mebala Ya Rona biodiversity conference at Bakgatla Resort in Pilanesberg from October 26-28.