If you’ve watched any of Themba Robin’s skits, his “why hello there” á la David Attenborough will ring clearly in your memory. Employing the famous natural historian’s British accent, Robin’s particular brand of slapstick and satirical comedy explores the nuances of South African life with deft touch. From his infamous ‘pothole piece’, to his bits on Woolies bags and the Phala Phala couch scandal, he turns his attention now (giving his time free of charge) to a Public Service Announcement with a clear message: free entry for South Africans to any national park between 16-24 September.
The PSA is produced in partnership between SANParks, the government conservation authority managing 21 parks in South Africa, and Wild Africa Fund, an NGO working to inspire the public and political will to protect Africa’s wildlife and wild spaces. With the sweeping landscapes of Golden Gate National Park as a backdrop, Robin unpacks some of the challenges that South Africans face, introducing both the everyday discount available to South Africans at national parks, and the week of free entry, as an exciting opportunity for wallet-friendly local adventure.
The free week initiative aims to raise interest in South Africa’s national parks year-round, with local tourism income being key to promote conservation initiatives, create and maintain jobs at the parks, and support surrounding communities. It also aims to inspire a deeper connection for all South Africans with their national parks, and the desire to conserve these unique ecosystems.
While the number of visitors to National Parks grew by 42,49% in the past financial year, according to SANParks, most of South Africa has never visited the wild spaces on their doorsteps, assuming that they’re either too expensive and inaccessible, or preferring to spend their vacation time and money heading overseas. SANParks is trying to change this story, appealing to South Africans to consider local destinations in their holiday plans by showcasing the incredible variety of accommodation, activities, and ecosystems available. The idea is also to promote some of the lesser-known park gems, like Marakele National Park, Augrabies National Park, Tankwa Karoo National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, Namaqua National Park and Mountain Zebra National Park amongst others.
The strategy of amplifying the voices of actors, comedians, and influencers to promote conservation messaging is one that Wild Africa Fund is familiar with, working with over 150 ambassadors across the continent. The collaboration between Robin, Wild Africa Fund and SANParks is just the beginning, with many more of South Africa’s noteworthy personalities rallying to join the cause. So, watch the national parks space – or better yet, get out and explore it yourself this September (it’s easier than you think).