KNP’S ICONIC LETABA ELEPHANT HALL RE-OPENS FOR TOURISTS
Innovative attractions of the Elephant Hall at Letaba Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park (KNP), which re-opened on Monday, 20 March 2017, include the newly designed display panels, lighting system, flooring, cabinets and landscaping made available with funding worth more than R1.5 million from the Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and the South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers.
Cutting the ribbon for the re-opening of the Elephant Hall are SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Mr Fundisile Mketeni with the President and Vice-Chancellor for the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia Professor Greg Hill. Looking on from the background is Chairperson Bushveld Region – Quintin Vermaak, KNP Managing Executive – Glenn Phillips, International Relations Projects Manager for the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia – Sheila Peake and SANParks General Manager: Visitor Management and the – Kevin Moore.
The desk which service staff members operate from when guests enter the facility has also received a facelift. All these new displays add considerable value and are a result of the refurbishment of the facility, which has taken nine weeks to complete (although the project foundation which included discussions and development phase started way back in 2010).
“Although the temporary closure might have inconvenienced our guests, we hope that the refurbishment has made the facility even better than it was and that guests enjoy it. The Letaba Elephant Hall has been converted into an international icon in terms of standards, and our gratitude goes to our sponsors, the University of the Sunshine Coast and the South African National Parks Honorary Rangers for their determination, financial and man hours contribution, said the SANParks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni during his address.
The Letaba Elephant Hall houses exhibits of the skulls and tusks for the KNP legendary elephants including the well-known magnificent seven; which makes it a priceless treasure. The new lighting system has brightened up the hall so that visitors can enjoy the displays such as the history on how elephants evolved as a species and the struggle that the conservationists had to endure to protect the huge herbivores against poaching
Delegates are taken on a tour for the new displays at the revamped Elephant Hall.
- The University of the Sunshine Coast’s financial contribution towards the refurbishment of the facility included travel, printing, and design of the panels in the region of Aus $100 000 (R1 million).
- The Bushveld Region Honorary Rangers (HRs) contributed R250 000 towards the refurbishment including flooring, paint purchase, new cabinets and desk restoration.
- The Limpopo Region HRs contributed R150 000 for the new lighting system.
- The Pretoria Region of the HRs contributed R32 000 for the landscaping and water-wise irrigation around the Hall. Their other contribution also extended to travel and hours of working/providing manpower for the landscaping work.
- Phase two of the project will involve the development of a virtual tour of the elephant hall which will be made available for people who cannot make it to the Kruger National Park (KNP) to view it on the SANParks website.
- Captivated by its rich history and what it offers, the unique information center attracts approximately 100 000 people from local and across the world every year; making it one of the popular attractions in the KNP.
- Children including those of staff members benefit immensely from the Letaba Elephant Hall especially during school holidays with activities such as video shows, pursuit games themed around the Park, clean-up campaigns, storytelling sessions by field rangers and orienteering trails around the camp. All these activities coordinated from this facility educate children about how to care for the protected places and the environment in general.
- The Letaba People and Conservation department cater to approximately 15 000 learners per annum at the Letaba Elephant Hall for environmental education programs as part of the organization’s mandate.