Creation of conservation corridor okayed
The establishment of the controversial peripheral development zone for the Kruger National Park has been approved, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Monday.
The area is aimed at creating a conservation corridor between the park and Mozambique's Greater Lebombo Conservancy.
Molewa said the corridor would strengthen attempts to curb rhino poaching through the establishment of a joint task force.
"The purpose of the peripheral development zone is to use the conservation corridor to facilitate cross-border tourism to stimulate investment into the corridor as well as into neighbouring communities in Mozambique," Molewa said.
The approval follows sharp criticism from conservationists, who believe the park should not be commercialised.
A lobby group called Against Interference in the Kruger and other National Assets (Aikona) was established shortly after SA National Parks proposed the establishment of the zone.
Aikona wants Molewa to first undertake a public participation process before approving the plan. But in a written reply to a parliamentary question, Molewa said she had consulted key stakeholders in Mozambique and South Africa, including tourism officials, the defence force and the police.
Aikona said SANParks wanted to establish a lavish hotel inside the Malelane Gate, which it sees as exploitation of a vital national resource.