Park managers are responsible for ensuring that land and all its natural resources under their protection, are maintained in good condition, as well as conserved for maximum biodiversity.
They need to apply the Protected Areas Act to maintain biodiversity for the public to enjoy, and enable researchers to study nature in a relatively undeveloped state. They also manage protected areas as resources to generate income from eco-tourism, for the benefit of neighbouring communities, as well as to serve as educational and job creation sites. To fulfil these functions, the park manager needs to be knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects.
Park managers also need ‘people skills’ as they manage teams of staff, and communicate with a wide range of stakeholders such as neighbouring farmers, or poor communities situated near the park who could be affected by wild animals that escape from the park, or those people who may want to collect firewood or thatching grass from within the park. Similar skills are needed by the game farm manager, who might be running an eco-lodge, as well as hunting concessions, and might need to manage wildlife in such a way that it can be sold sustainably to generate additional income. They must be knowledgeable on a wide range of relevant subjects, such as biodiversity, ecosystems, veld management, burning and grazing regimes and wildlife diseases, as well as the policies and legislation that are applicable.
Park managers work in natural environments most of the time, but also carry out administrative tasks and seminars indoors.
They may work for SANParks, provincial conservation agencies, or municipal authorities who run large or small nature reserves
• National Parks Board
• private game farms
• private game reserves
• government departments
• provincial conservation organisations
• large mining, chemical and industrial companies
A nature conservator or park ranger can work as a consultant in the private sector performing environmental impact studies.