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June 13, 2011

Isimangaliso News Flash

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iSimangaliso celebrates World Ocean Day

As custodian of South Africa’s longest Marine Protected Area, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, manages 9% of South Africa’s coastline with its eastern boundary being 5km out to sea.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, through its Marine Environmental Education Programme with 16 schools from surrounding communities, recognises the significance of Ocean Day. These schools directly abut marine sections of the Park. In total 240 learners and educators visited the sandy and rocky shore environments of Mission Rocks and Sodwana Bay in the 2011 programme.

LEFT: Learners explore rock pools and delight in holding a sea urchin. RIGHT: An environmental facilitator demonstrates turtle egg-laying to intrigued learners.

Says Nerosha Govender, who coordinates iSimangaliso’s environmental education programme, “many of the children are from communities whose livelihood strategies include collecting red bait and mussels from iSimangaliso, so sustainable use of marine resources and the importance of conserving our marine heritage is a relevant part of the programme.”

Snorkeling and exploring the rock pools and shallow waters is an exciting activity as learners discover abundant sea life.

One learner remarked, “I saw animals that I was seeing for the first time and I am happy because I saw different types of fish and different types of snail, as well as rocks and stones from the beach that I have only seen on TV. The only thing I don’t like is that people leave their litter and fishing line on the beach” (Vezobala High).

The marine education programme is jointly implemented by iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with funds from the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (Oceans and Coast branch). Local NQF4-qualified guides who participated in iSimangaliso’s Tourism Skills Development Programme act as environmental facilitators.

Interactive games are played with the learners to show them different processes like a food web or the life cycle of the leatherback and loggerhead turtles.

In the words of one educator, “the facilitators were really friendly, dedicated and passionate and responded to all our questions. We learned a lot about wildlife and the different kind of animals that live in or near the seas. We now know that we must conserve nature for future generations and the community must be aware of nature. We suggest that everybody should be taught about nature conservation, it must be part of the school curriculum” (Mzabalazo Primary).

This marine education is part of a broader environmental education and equitable Park access programme (see facts, below) of the iSimangaliso Authority which has the aim to provide all of the learners of the 600-odd schools that surround iSimangaliso with a visit to the Park at least once in their junior and senior school career. Gate access is free for qualifying schools. A key challenge is transport. 2011 will see a dedicated iSimangaliso youth bus supported by Lotto.


  • 66 schools in environmental education programme
  • Youth wilderness trails 200 schools free and discounted entries per year
  • Higher education bursary programme – 27 youths from around the Park studying at university
  • Free entrance to iSimangaliso for approx 70 000 visitors on New Year’s & Christmas Day
  • Friends and neighbours access programme – 22 000 free entries during the year
  • Annual school environmental awards programme in its 4th year with 734 entries
Category: Blog

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