Mountain Zebra National Park wins most prestigious award, two years in a row

Mountain Zebra National Park Manager, Megan Taplin, receiving the Best Park Certificate and Trophy from Frontier Regional General Manager, Dries Engelbrecht.

For the second consecutive year, Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) outside Cradock walked away with the most prestigious award at the recent 2014/15 Frontier RegionalAchievement Awards.

Park Manager Megan Taplin accepted the Best Performing Park Award on behalf of her colleagues at the ceremony hosted in Addo Elephant National Park.

The awards evening is an annual event to celebrate the top individual and team achievements from the four national parks in the region – namely Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra, Camdeboo and Karoo National Parks, and is a precursor to the annual South African National Parks (SANParks) Kudu Awards to be held in Gauteng later this year.

Last year Mountain Zebra won in the same category at the national event – and currently proudly boasts with the title of top park within SANParks.

The Best Performing Park Award is for excellent achievements in Conservation, Tourism and People & Conservation – SANParks’ three core business areas – over the period under review.

In Conservation, some of the highlights were: The Park made another contribution to South Africa’s cheetah metapopulation with the translocation of two male and one female cheetah to Selati Game Reserve.

This brings to 24 the number of cheetah contributed by MZNP to the cheetah metapopulation since 2010 and makes MZNP the top contributor of cheetah to the metapopulation in South Africa through the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s programme.

At the same time, populations such as black wildebeest and red hartebeest were also managed effectively by means of translocations.

For MZNP, Tourism achievements during the 2014/15 financial year included: Visitor numbers increased by 4% in comparison to the same period last year. Unit occupancy showed a 2.6% increase while camping increased by 5% compared to the same period last year.

Mountain cottage occupancy showed a 13% increase. Activities showed a good increase of 11.3% with night guided drives and cheetah tracking being the most popular activities.

A new activity, guided sunset drives, was introduced successfully in December.

On the People and Conservation front: A total of 4 354 learners were addressed during environmental education programmes during the course of last year. This represents a 30% improvement on the previous financial year’s achievement, when 3 354 learners were reached.

There was also a 37% improvement in the number of people who entered for free during the annual SA National Parks Week in September last year – from 615 in 2013/14 to 845.

Taplin once again attributed the Park’s success to excellent team work and the dedication of staff on the ground and thanked them for all their hard work.