Coast KZN

09 Sep 2017

iSimangaliso CEO not ‘disappearing from conservation’

Tamlyn Jolly (Zululand Observer) Picture: Andrew Zaloumis has stepped down as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park PHOTOS: iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Andrew Zaloumis is taking this opportunity to pursue his studies in sustainability

SUNDAY’S sudden announcement that Andrew Zaloumis has stepped down as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, effective immediately, has sparked much debate as to the reasons for his decision and concern over the future of South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.

‘I was given the opportunity to complete my studies in sustainability through Cambridge University,’ Zaloumis told the ZO.

‘Over the next three months I will be undertaking field research and will defend my thesis in March, handing in the final copy in July.

‘While I will be spending some time in the UK, I am not relocating.

‘I am not disappearing from conservation and plan to get stuck back into it next year.’

Zaloumis has spent more than 20 years in the conservation industry, 17 of them as leader of the wetland park.

Entitled ‘Understanding the behavioural drivers of communities living in and around the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in order to develop campaigns for sustainability through social change’, Zaloumis’ research aims to identify levers that will enable sufficient social change to modify behaviour of individuals in a traditional value system, and to see the value of environment beyond personal benefit.

‘Conservation areas make up 8% of South Africa’s land area.

iSamgaliso Wetlands Park Rhino Day Event, 22 September 2015.

The Rhino Walk is one of the many people-centered conservation initiatives spearheaded by iSimangaliso Wetland Park, aimed at getting local communities to appreciate the value of conservation

‘They are a source of natural resources for subsistence and cultural uses, as well as other economic benefits,’ said Zaloumis.

‘For local communities, conservation areas have an apartheid legacy and are associated with limited economic benefits and/or a loss of land and access to resources, and not for their contribution to the greater good and sustainability.

‘In the absence of a new economic model and social organisation, the already limited livelihood choices available to iSimangaliso’s 640 000 people are becoming fewer as economies tighten, unsustainable practices continue and the impacts of climate change begin to be felt.

‘iSimangaliso has a strong team in place, with 40% of the workforce being under the age of 30 and all fully qualified,’ said Zaloumis, who is confident the good work will continue in his absence.

From Monday Professor Anis Koradia will step in as interim CEO until the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) appoints Zaloumis’ full-time successor.

‘Prof Koradia has extensive experience in public service administration, having served as the Acting Head of Department of the North West Province’s Department of Agriculture and as Chief Education Administrator of the intervention team deployed by President Zuma to Limpopo in 2011/2012,’ said DEA spokesperson Albi Modise.

‘He will be deployed to iSimangaliso with a team of various DEA specialists in different, yet relevant fields, to support him and ensure this public entity maintains its good track record.