Teaching youngsters about our natural heritage and its conservation is important to SANParks. The Marakele National Park’s Thutong Environmental Education Centre plays host to schoolchildren and youth groups, particularly those from local communities and those participating in SANParks’ Kids in Parks educational initiative.
Here they learn valuable lessons about our diverse fauna and flora. They also have plenty of fun and an unforgettable experience in a national park!
Thutong comprises 22 rooms and an auditorium which can accommodate up to 140 people – but sitting in an air-conditioned auditorium is not always the best environmental to teach youngsters about nature. An alternative outdoor lecture facility was required – one that could also be used when the existing facilities are unavailable.
Members of the SANParks Honorary Rangers sprang in to help.
Construction began on 20th September 2018 – but was temporarily put on hold when the game-counting helicopter needed to use the concrete slab as a helipad!
When work recommenced, members from Johannesburg and Marakele Regions eagerly sprang into action to mix concrete, erect roof trusses and build display areas. Even a passing elephant looked on in bewilderment.
By 17 April 2019 the entire structure had been completed, including 150 m2 of screed floor. The facility is valued at R166 000, generously funded by donor money, and can host up to 100 children.
The architect, Dorien du Plessis, has made sure that the mountain vista has been retained. The entire structure does not even protrude above the tree line.
Twelve 8-seater PET picnic sets, due to arrive in May, will complete the picture. Various information boards, displays, solar lighting and an outdoor chess board are also being planned.