From 30 October to 5 November, the KZN South Coast played host to some 215 in-person and 219 virtual delegates from 22 countries worldwide attending the 2022 Conservation Symposium. Talks by leading experts, networking and discussions were held at the upmarket venues, Premier Resort’s Cutty Sark Hotel and Dream Hotel’s Blue Marlin in Scottburgh, while a number of local establishments welcomed delegates, showcasing the many tourism offerings of this top MICE and events destination.
“South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise [SCTIE] would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of this groundbreaking event,” commented Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of SCTIE. “It was a privilege for the KZN South Coast to host such an important ecological conference, particularly considering the local biodiversity and reliance our tourism economy has on healthy ecosystems. The success of this event also places the KZN South Coast on the map as a leading MICE and events destination, and we look forward to hosting more conferences at our many great venues in future.”
Mangcu extended thanks to Premier Resort’s Cutty Sark Hotel for hosting the Conservation Symposium: “This is a magnificent venue that is known for hosting events of international standard. The impeccable accommodation and service are a real reflection of the quality venues found here. Dream Hotel’s Blue Marlin, which also opened itself to the Symposium, must also be thanked for welcoming event-goers to the KZN South Coast through quality facilities and warm hospitality.”
Joy Crutchfield, the Deputy Chairperson of SCTIE, said The Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom proved itself the ideal venue for the symposium: “Through events such as this, we can continue to showcase the KZN South Coast’s many natural assets and work with all stakeholders to promote their conservation. From our Blue Flag beaches and world-class dive sites, to the hinterland experiences that combine natural beauty with cultural insight, this region’s tourism offerings are embedded in the conservation of our resources.
“I’d like to extend special thanks to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, CapeNature, WildOceans, WildLands, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers, and the Environmental Law Association for bringing The Conservation Symposium to our shores.”
Throughout the six-day conference, delegates gained valuable insight, and discussed possible solutions, on various aspects impacting conservation today. Some of the speakers and their topics included:
- Prof Guy Midgley, School for Climate Studies at Stellenbosch University, the plenary keynote speaker How should we think about conservation under a changing climate? Key findings on biodiversity and climate change.
- Nonhle Mngadi, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – Investigating the factors influencing the increasing cases of illegal cattle grazing in Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas in KZN.
- Wendy Collinson-Jonker, Wildlife and Transport Programme for the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the session keynote speaker on Linear infrastructures and biodiversity.
- Onkemetse Nteta, SADC TFCA Financing Facility at IUCN working in Trans-frontier conservation areas in the SADC region.
- Dr Reece Alberts, Environmental Management at North-West University – Applying the theory of planned behaviour to tourism-related waste behaviour in marine protected areas: The Aliwal Shoal case study.
- Kate Handley, Executive Director at Biodiversity Law Centre – Biodiversity litigation: Emerging trends.
- Cath Jakins, Campaign Co-ordinator at Blood Lions NPO – The unregulated nature of the commercial captive predator industry in South Africa: Insights gained using the PAIA process.
- Nqobile Sibiya, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – Sustaining livelihoods through reed harvesting.
SCTIE arranged several tours for delegates to enjoy in the Scottburgh area after the formalities of the day. These included a visit to Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre in Mthwalume where delegates were immersed in local culture and treated to spectacular performances by Zulu performers; and a tour of Crocworld Conservation Centre with a talk by Riverbend’s Howard Kelly.
A frogging outing by Dr Jeanne Tarrant proved to be hugely exciting when the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog was discovered at TC Robertson Nature Reserve. Another highlight the sundowner paddle on Mahlongwa River with Nandimvelo’s Matt Machell-Cox.
The Conservation Symposium organiser, Freyni du Toit, said that the KZN South Coast had been the perfect setting for active engagement on a cross-sector of conservation issues. “Valuable research, ground-breaking insights, best practice and impactful solutions were shared by leaders in various fields of conservation. This event was held at a critical time for our planet, with the effects of the climate crisis immediately evident to all stakeholders. I believe everyone is leaving this symposium empowered with what needs to be done, and clear on their role in conservation. We all have to work together for a better, healthier future,” added du Toit.
Special thanks were extended to the event sponsors who were instrumental in the success of The Conservation Symposium. They include SCTIE, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, South African National Convention Bureau, National Research Foundation, CapeNature, WildTrust, HPH Publishing, Mpenjati Coffee, The Green Net, Briza Publications, Flora & Fauna Publications, Thirsty Elephant, Riverbend Wine & Art Gallery, and Crocworld Conservation Centre.
The KZN South Coast, which boasts 11 quality golf courses, Blue Flag beaches, world-renowned dive sites and extreme sports adventures, is the ultimate destination for business meetings and events. To facilitate the planning of business-focused events, SCTIE has also compiled the Meeting Planner Guide – a comprehensive, one-stop directory for all business conferences, meetings, teambuilding and accommodation requirements. This is available at www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za.
To find out more about the KZN South Coast’s great #SummerReady tourism offerings and events, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores; visit the ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook or YouTube; @infosouthcoast on Twitter or Instagram; ‘Info Ugu South Coast Tourism’ on LinkedIn; www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za to check out the Events Calendar, the KZN South Coast Meeting Planner Guide and more!