Conserving South Africa's Wildlife Brick by Brick

PRETORIA, South Africa, February 22, 2002 (ENS) - One brick at a time, South Africa is building financial support to safeguard its unique wild animals and wild lands.

My Acre of Africa is a new program sponsored by South African National Parks and the Peace Parks Foundation that offers people around the world the opportunity sponsor an acre of South Africa's Kruger National Park by buying a brick to be placed on a living map in the park.

Each brick will be engraved with an inscription chosen by the sponsor such as the name of an individual, family, school, church, club, company, or conservation organization.

Kruger National Park measures 4,692,914 acres, the number of bricks that are available for sponsorship. Four levels of financial sponsorship are available, and if fully subscribed, the program could raise US$200 million for conservation projects.


Nelson Mandela was President of South Africa from May 1994 to June 1999. (Photo courtesy African National Congress)
My Acre of Africa is being conducted under the patronage of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who knows from experience that competing demands on government funds continue to result in drastic cuts in funding for conservation.

Mandela says he supports the program because, "If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa's animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever. Before it is too late, we need your help to lay the foundation that will preserve this precious legacy long after we are gone."

Dr. Anton Rupert, chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation and Paul Irwin, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States are also patrons of My Acre of Africa.

Kruger National Park has 130 species of mammals including lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhino. There are 114 species of reptiles, 468 species of birds and 300 varieties of trees.

The first project that will be funded by the initiative is the placement of all the natural clay and granite bricks, bearing the personal inscriptions of their sponsors, in pathways within a 110 acre detailed, scale-model relief map of the Kruger National Park.

To be located on the periphery of the park, subject to the completion of a full Environmental Impact Assessment, the map will replicate Kruger in miniature, in every aspect and incorporate specialized education resources.


Concept of the living map laid out in bricks (Image courtesy My Acre of Africa)
The major part of this living map will be natural bushveld, planted with different vegetation indigenous to Kruger, to replicate the park's 16 different ecozones. All the varying topography of Kruger will be represented, as will sites of historical and archaeological significance.

The bricks will be laid in pathways to represent features of Kruger: the Park's borders will be sand colored clay bricks, the rivers and dams will be dark green granite bricks, the tourist roads will be brown clay bricks, and Kruger's tourist camps and entrance gates will be dark brown granite bricks.

Funds raised through My Acre of Africa will be used for maintaining Southern Africa's exceptional biodiversity, protecting endangered species, anti-poaching programs, wild animal disease research and control, and wildlife translocation.

Monies raised through the sale of bricks will go towards recovery of degraded ecosystems, land acquisition to extend protected areas, and towards development of a conservation education program.


Leopard in Kruger National Park (Photo courtesy Aaron Safaris)
Donations are paid directly into the My Acre of Africa Trust. The trustees are two representatives from each of the program's founding organizations: South African National Parks, Johnnic Communications Ltd, and the Peace Parks Foundation.

In the distribution of funds, the trust will be assisted by an independent Advisory Board of scientists and specialists who will evaluate and recommend projects for funding, and monitor each project's progress. An independent secretariat will administer, invest and allocate the funds.

The Kruger National Park was established in 1898 by Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic from 1883 through the Boer War till 1902. Kruger worked to preserve wildlife threatened by overhunting and the expansion of agriculture and mining.

Today, Kruger hosts over 6,000 visitors daily, accommodating them in the 27 rest camps located all over the park.

In support of this new fundraising program, Mandala has said, "With bricks we shall build our children's future: created from only the purest and finest elements; gently and lovingly laid on the deepest and strongest foundations upon which our children, grown to adulthood, will stand tall and proud as they take their place alongside the wild things with which they share a healthy and beautiful Earth."

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