UNESCO World Heritage Site CEO Andrew Zaloumis has stepped down from the leadership of the 1st South African Wetland Park. iSimangaliso, the third largest conservation area in South Africa is situated on the East Coast of the country and covers huge tracts of land stretching from south of the fabulous St. Lucia Estuary in Northern Zululand to the Mozambican border 280km north. The conservation efforts of the iSimangaliso Authority covers nearly 3,280 km2 of natural ecosystems that are fast becoming recognized as a major travel destination.

iSimangaliso the first UNESCO Park in South Africa

UNESCO recognized the former Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park on 1 November 2007 after years of concept planning by conservation and environmental visionaries such as Nick Steel and the late Dr. Ian Player. Incorporating coastal wetlands and natural bushveld, the concept is considered one of Africa's successful ventures in embracing local communities in the management strategies of wildlife conservation.

Andrew Zaloumis dedicated 20 years to the environment

According to a statement issued on September 3 by the iSimangaliso Board, "After some 20 years of outstanding leadership and a career dedicated to people-centered conservation, Andrew Zaloumis has stepped down as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

He will pursue his studies in sustainability at Cambridge University UK and continue to contribute to Southern African conservation and development."

Sustainable conservation key to Africa's wildlife heritage

Sustainable conservation is vital to the long-term future of environmental protection in Africa. His contribution has not gone unnoticed.

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr. Edna Molewa, said, “Under his tenure, Mr. Zaloumis pioneered and institutionalised development-focused conservation at the Park."

His dedication to community conservation had far-reaching effects during his tenure as CEO at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. iSimangaliso, under the leadership of Andrew, explored and implemented a host of opportunities to conserve the wilderness while creating opportunities for access, equity and economic empowerment of local communities.

Chairman of the iSimangaliso Board, Buyane Zwane, describe Zaloumis as being "a legend in our lifetime.” With great respect, he added that "[Zaloumis]..

is a walking encyclopedia on whom conservationists, researchers, media, conservation enthusiasts, amateurs, professionals, and others will continue to call on. We are privileged to have worked with him as a board over the past two years and are professionally richer and wiser for the association."

World heritage site myriad awards

During his conservation career, Andrew Zaloumis and the iSimangaliso UNESCO World Heritage Site were awarded the SAICA 2015/16 award for Public Sector Audit Excellence, the WWF Living Planet Award, Mail and Guardian Greening the Future Award for youth leadership and job creation, the National Heritage Council Golden Shield Award for World Heritage Site of the year, and the KFW Grizmek (for people-centric conservation practices).

At this time no announcement has been made as to who will step into his position at iSimangaliso, and at this time Zaloumis has not made any official announcement why he has chosen to study in the UK.