Deputy Minister Thomson lauds transfer of National Zoological Gardens to SANBI

05 June 2018

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, has lauded the transfer of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

The National Zoological Garden was previously an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. It was incorporated in SANBI on 1 April 2018 in terms of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA). The process of fully integrating the National Zoo into SANBI is taking place through the establishment of a number of work stream committees.

“The transfer of the National Zoo will enable SANBI to fulfil the function of protecting and preserving collections of animals in appropriate enclosures as outlined in environmental legislation,” said Ms Thomson. “The National Zoo brings with it well-established research, conservation and education platforms and human capacity that contributes to the understanding of wildlife health, the practice of wildlife conservation and environmental education. The knowledge generated contributes to the management of wildlife populations and informs policy and legislation.”

The Deputy Minister added that the zoo’s strength was its synergetic multidisciplinary approach in focussed programmes. The Zoo has been awarded a research chair in conservation physiology that aims to develop mechanistic models to predict the impact of climate change on wild birds and mammals by the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChi).

The National Zoo renders a number of services for other national departments, provincial agencies and the wildlife industry within the legal and illegal trade and management of wild populations. The Zoo, through its youth and schools programmes, expects to engage with 160 000 learners on a variety of biodiversity topics in the coming year.  Its educational offerings that focus on animals and the environment are complimentary to those already presented in SANBI through its “Kids in Gardens” Programme which reached over 50 000 beneficiaries in the 2017/18 financial year. In addition, SANBI offers a career programme aimed at attracting young people into the biodiversity sector, and plays a pivotal role in mentoring and developing young people already in the sector through its Student and Intern Programme. 

In addition to this, the National Zoo and SANBI are popular tourist attractions, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the Botanical Gardens countrywide, and to the Zoo in Pretoria. This impacts significantly on awareness and understanding of environmental concerns.

Deputy Minister Thomson said an additional grant that the Zoo has received from the National Department of Tourism (NDT) will greatly enhance its product offerings at both its sites in the City of Tshwane and in Mokopane.

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