South African National Parks (SANParks) supported by Total South Africa and First National Bank (FNB) recognised deserving conservationists at this year’s 14th Kudu Awards ceremony held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on 16 November 2018.
The awards were made possible thanks to forward-thinking and progressive partners who together, recognised internal and external stakeholders that have demonstrated exceptional commitment to sustainability, improving livelihoods, achieving real change on the ground in our national parks.
The Kudu Awards and the Chief Executive Awards recognise SANParks employees as well as multiple stakeholders and disciplines who play a pivotal role in strengthening conservation in South Africa. According to Fundisile Mketeni, SANParks CEO, “Innovation is one of the ways that we will and are able to better protect our national parks be it through anti-poaching efforts or finding solutions to climate change. If we don’t innovate we run the risk of losing our natural heritage. Tonight we honour several innovators who are leading the way in the conservation of our natural world.”
Facing some of the toughest challenges to conservation, innovation and technology won top honours at the Kudu Awards, indicative of the work being done using innovative technology, to combat poaching and tackle wildlife crime head-on.
This year’s Innovation Award went to the Meerkat Project Team, consisting of SANParks, Peace Parks Foundation, CSIR, and the Southern African Wildlife College’s (SAWC) K9 Unit for their contribution in counter-poaching.
The innovation mastery of the Meerkat lies in the ability to apply technology to distinguish between humans and animals in an African bush environment, over large distances, where traditional surveillance equipment falls short because of the extreme temperatures, thick vegetation and terrain challenges. The SAWC K9 Unit’s capacity was boosted this year by the highly innovative addition of 20 new, free-running pack dogs from Texas in the U.S.A. Since the arrival of the two new packs, the unit has been involved in 73 deployments in the Greater Kruger National Park where 43 poachers have been arrested and 18 rifles confiscated.
“Thanks to partnerships with Total South Africa and FNB, the spotlight continues to shine on the pillar of nature conservation not only in South Africa but worldwide,” continued Mketeni.
“Total South Africa is proud to be associated with the Kudu Awards as it recognizes the tremendous effort by some extraordinary people who care about the environment and the planet that we leave behind for our children. The Total Group worldwide has environmental conservation as one of its pillars in the Corporate Social Investment portfolio and we continue to work with partners to make a difference,” says Total’s Managing Director and CEO, Pierre-Yves Sachet.
Mr Sipho Silinda, CEO of FNB Public Sector Banking, said “By supporting the Kudu Awards, FNB wants to recognise the individuals who work tirelessly to preserve and nurture South Africa’s natural environment. Through these awards we would like to showcase the outstanding work done by conservationists, their dedication and commitment stands as an example of what it means to be a committed citizen. FNB is proud to be at the forefront of nature conservation efforts and we will continue to support these awards to ensure we highlight the good work that is being done to protect the environment.”
2018 Kudu Awards winners include:
Innovation: The Meerkat Project Team: SANParks; Peace Parks Foundation; CSIR and Southern African Wildlife College’s K9 Unit
Associated Partners: Untouched Adventure and Tip Publishing’s Arnold Ras
Media Contribution to Eco-tourism: ENCA’s Christelle du Toit and Bafana Yende for TV; SABC’s Suzanne Paxton for radio and the Herald and Weekend Post’s Guy Rodgers for print
Environmental Education: Lugedlane Primary School (Ehlanzeni) and Runner-up Basopa High School (Giyani)
Community Contribution to Conservation: Collin Louw (Khomani San) from the South African San Council
Women in Conservation: Andrea Von Gunten from Cape Town Environmental Education Trust
Professional Stakeholders: Adeline Manake and the Eskom Malelane Customer Network Centre
Individual Contribution to Conservation: Cedric Coetzee from Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife
Non-Profit Making Institution Contribution: DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage and Korsman Conservancy
Business Partner of the Year: Rhino Walking Safari
Honorary Ranger Best Region of the Year: Large Region – West Rand; Small Region – Bankenveld
Honorary Ranger Best Project of the Year: The National Training Committee
The Awards evening which also included the Chief Executive Awards recognizes dedication and selfless efforts of SANParks employees towards achieving the goals of SANParks’ mandate. The lifetime achievement award went to Mr Robert Phoku for 44 years’ service to SANParks. Phoku started with SANParks as a Tipper driver in 1974. Since 2004 Phoku has been the dedicated driver for all Kruger National Park Management Committee tours inside the park. “We thank him for his hard work, reliability and dedication to the organisation which is exemplary,” said Mketeni.
A total of 29 Chief Executive Awards were given out this year ranging from the Shield Award, Best Customer Service, Best Constituency Builder, Best Ranger Post, Best Performing Camp, Best Performing Park of the Year, Best Performing Entrance Gate/ Reception, Excellent Performance in the workplace, Overall Best Performer, Best Performing Division, Best Leadership Award, CEO Special Award to the Website Community Choice Award.