Utrecht’s Balele Game Park is a popular fixture within the Northern KwaZulu-Natal area, offering Newcastillians an opportunity to enjoy the offerings of a game reserve without having to travel to far off destinations. However, as many know, the facility is not without challenges, but there appears to be progressive movement.
In February 2021, Emadlangeni Local Municipality noted Balele Game Park experienced intensified theft levels of the game park’s fencing and poles. Resulting in the park having to replace approximately 3 kilometres of game fence and abandon what used to be the blesbok camp due to persistent unsustainable repairs.
Furthermore, the municipality emphasised that the theft of the game fencing eroded the park’s limited resources, as they had to continuously fence the park’s total parameter. Further stating, if this continued, eventually, the park would become unviable.
With a twist of creativity and thinking outside the box, this once destructive issue has since been resolved. The park’s conservation officer, Kerotse Mosebetsi, explains the Balele Park has taken to painting the pole fixtures and fencing with bright colours. This, he points out, was a community member’s idea, and has proved to be a resounding success. The vivid colours have worked as a deterrent, as perpetrators can no longer steal the perimeter fencing without being noticed and having to repaint them.
Despite overcoming this challenge, earlier this year, the park sought financial funding from various government departments, such as the Department of Environmental Affairs, to enhance the park.
Mosebetsi says, “We are still in talks with the provincial government, and we have supplied the Department of Environmental Affairs with the necessary documentation. We are now waiting to see if the funding will be secured, but it is a process which can take time.”
However, he notes, the Emandlangeni Municipality is still supplying the park with an operational budget. “As the Emandlangeni Municipality is a small municipality, we cannot be given a large budget, but their support does help tremendously. But we do need more funding to assist with the structures, which are aged.”
He points out that the tarred and gravel roads also need attention due to the weather conditions, vehicle movement, and wear and tear, leaving them in need of dire repair. “The municipality is doing its best to cover the costs, but we do need more funding to address the condition of the roads and certain of the building facilities, as they are old.”
While the Emandlgeni Municipality is doing its part, with Balele Game Park reaching out to provincial government departments, Mosebetsi stresses that the community can also play a significant role in uplifting the facility. “The Balele Game Park is still operational and has potential, but the community needs to support us, as they can help take the park forward,” he enthuses.
Through the community’s support, Mosebesti states that reinvestment into the park will be possible, and it will not have to be so reliant on outside sources. “The current support is not as it should be, and the park is for the community. So, we would encourage the community to support us where possible,” he concludes.
What are your thoughts? Will you be supporting the Balele Game Park in order to save it? Share your views in the comment section below.