A JOINT project launched by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa), working closely with other organisations, has transformed the crime-ridden Baakens Valley into a safer spot.
Up until two years ago when private sector investment secured and trained five full-time rangers to patrol the valley, it was a haven for bush-dwellers, muggers, thieves, rapists and even murderers. Since then, great progress has been made, Wessa senior conservation officer Morgan Griffiths said.
“Back in 2008, muggings were a weekly occurrence and I think many people still think of the valley as a no-go area. But there has been a change and slowly we are seeing an increase in visitors, picnickers and school groups.”
He said three companies – Dynamic Commodities, Lion Roars and Canon EC – sponsored a ranger each, starting in 2011. Those contracts ended and Coca-Cola Fortune has sponsored five rangers since February last year.
These rangers are aided by three more from the metro’s Swartkops unit plus three interns from the Groen Sebenza project.
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