Editor's note: The Traveler is expanding coverage of national parks in other nations. We'll soon be featuring travel articles on international park destinations and continuing this weekly roundup on park news from other countries. If you live in one of the 200 countries where our readers reside, send Randy your news or suggestions.
Wales: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Celebrates 60 years
The UK’s only largely coastal national park has become an icon of rugged Welsh scenery. The 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail was called “the second best coastal destination in the world,” by UK’s National Geographic Traveller magazine in 2010. It has also ranked with the Inca Trail and Mount Kilimanjaro among the world’s top ten hiking trails by an online travel website.
National Park Authority Chairman Tony Brinsden said, “We are a small public authority challenged to be many things to many people. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary this year, we will continue to meet these challenges – by conserving the Park’s outstanding features and ensuring that the special qualities which we all value about it can be enjoyed by everyone, now and in the future.”
Those “values” are intensely cinematic. Among the many films shot on the park’s awesome coastlines include Moby Dick, The Lion in Winter, Robin Hood, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (parts one and two).
If you’ll be in Wales this summer, many events are scheduled for the anniversary year. A highlight will be a 14-day series of guided walks from Amroth in the south to Saint Dogmaels in the north, starting June 2nd and ending the 15th. Only 21 reservations are available so “booking is essential,” says the park. Hikers arrange their own lodging and meet each day for bus transport to trailheads. Call 044-845 345 7275 for more, or e-mail [email protected]. Checkout more on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail.
Australia: Election Rhetoric Ramps-Up Park Prospects in Oz
Anna Bligh, the first female premier of Australia’s state of Queensland, is promising a new mega-national park as part of her plan. She is up for re-election along with all 89 members of the Legislative Assembly on March 24, 2012.
Queensland is Australia's northeastern state, immediately north of New South Wales and its capital, Sydney. Queensland is the second largest state in Australia, and Brisbane is its capital and largest city.
If she and the labor government are re-elected—Bligh will work for a 1,367-mile (2200-kilometer) green belt from the town of Birdsville (on the far interior border of Queensland and the state of South Australia) to Brisbane on the coast of the Coral Sea.
Local coverage says, “The corridor would connect deserts and the Channel Country in Queensland's far west with the Carnarvon country and western hardwoods in central and southern Queensland, finally reaching the beach on the Gold Coast. The belt would take a decade to create.”
Premier Anna Bligh said, "This will be conservation on a continental scale."
Drew Wagner, spokesperson for the lobby group AgForce, accused the premier of being “all about politics, not the environment. It's just another grubby green deal that's being done for preferences and votes in southeast Queensland." Southeast Queensland is the more urban area north of Sydney on the country’s tourism-focused Gold Coast region.
Africa: National Parks Staggered with Poaching Crises
In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, four park employees arrested for rhino poaching include two field guides and a ranger.
In Cameroon, more than 100 Government soldiers have launched a military offensive against elephant poachers in Bouba N’Djida National Park where hundreds of elephants have been slain in the park over the last two months. The offensive was authorized last week at a high level strategy meeting between Cameroon’s Defence Minister and Forests and Wildlife Minister “to secure Cameroon’s national territory, local people and elephant population.”
In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, one of the world's largest game parks and the flagship of South Africa’s national park system, Sanparks employees were arrested after two dead rhinos were found stripped of their horns. The Washington Post said, “The parks department says the ranger arrested is among scores who have been striking for higher pay since early February.”
A record 448 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa in 2011 (80 more since the start of 2012). The country has deployed hundreds of troops along its borders to help fight gangs smuggling rhino horns. The regional press has discussed whether legalizing horn trade could save the animals.
David Mabunda, head of Sanparks, said, “I am personally saddened to discover that some of our own would so callously abuse the confidence and faith that we have entrusted upon them.”
BBC coverage of the story attributed soaring incidents of poaching to “demand for the horns in Asian traditional medicine, especially in China and Vietnam, where they are thought to have powerful healing properties. South Africa has become the focal point of the rhino trade because it has between 70% and 80% of the global population - about 20,000 animals.” The 8,494 square-mile Kruger National Park has the world’s single largest population of rhinos.
In Cameroon, the government has been under pressure from the European Union, environmental groups, other members of the international and diplomatic community, and their own citizens to interdict the slaughter. The poaching is thought to be carried out by “heavily armed ... Arabic speakers travelling on horseback ... believed to be from Sudan. It is widely speculated that the vast volumes of ivory are destined for Asian markets.”
Natasha Kofoworola, Regional Representative of World Wildlife Fund Central Africa Region Programme Office, said, “WWF is waiting to see the results of this military mission. We will continue to pressure the government to ensure that this annual attack on elephants in the dry season is permanently stopped before Cameroon’s most important savanna elephant population is lost forever.” Cameroon’s Lobeke National Park has also figured in the crisis.
Singapore: New Trail to Circle the Island City-State
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean just announced that in the next few years the city-state will build a 93-mile “Round Island Route” recreational corridor circling coastal Singapore. The National Parks Board said the path is expected to link and traverse many residential parts of the city and benefit three million people. The National Parks Board said the “tour” will have three segments, including an “eco-discovery trail, coastal adventure trail and city and heritage trail, linking ... many natural, cultural and historical attractions to the city’s parks and cycling networks.”
The government said the route, proposed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2008, will turn Singapore into a “City in a Garden.”