The Mountain Zebra National Park outside Cradock celebrated its 80th birthday today by unveiling eight new accommodation establishments within the 28 386 hectare park, writes Louise Liebenberg.
The new units include two luxury rock chalets boasting magnificent views of the surrounding landscape.
Six two-sleeper cottages have also been added to the park’s existing offering, with the new buildings representing an investment of R13.5-million that also includes upgrading of existing infrastructure services.
The project took 12 months to complete, creating six permanent jobs and 40 temporary jobs during the construction phase, according to the managing executive of SANParks, Property Mokoena.
The Mountain Zebra National Park is famous for the significant role it played in saving the once critically endangered Cape Mountain Zebra from extinction.
“This is a very important day for us,” Mokoena said.
“We are not just celebrating the new facility, but several other events in one. Today is World Ranger Day and for these zebras to survive from the 11 we had , to over 1000 today, field rangers had to protect them.
“The downlisting [of the Cape Mountain Zebra from the Endangered List in September last year] means we can now supply other parks and private initiatives, unlocking the economic potential and also the gene pool of these animals. Before downlisting we could stock parks, but not sell the animals.”
The new facilities were officially opened by the Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Sakhumzi Somyo. Bookings for the public will open in September.
The programme also included a celebration and lunch in the park for some 800 community members from the Cradock and Middelburg areas.