Home Opinion and Features PROFILE: The force behind SANParks’ Arid Region

PROFILE: The force behind SANParks’ Arid Region

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Lucius believes that SANParks is a world-class organisation with tremendous potential for growth: “Parks within SANParks do not belong to the organisation but to the people of South Africa. SANParks only plays a role in conserving it for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone who visit the parks”.

LUCIUS Christiaan Moolman was born on March 30, 1961 in Cradock in the Eastern Cape. He spent his formative years on the family farm between Cradock and Somerset East. After school he decided to pursue his passion for nature and obtained his BSc Degree in Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University and followed this up with his Honours and a Master’s degree in wildlife management at the University of Pretoria.

Currently, the regional general manager of what is known as the Arid Region of South African National Parks (SANParks), Lucius’ first contact with the organisation was at Mountain Zebra National Park outside Cradock. This is where he conducted his research towards his Master’s degree between 1984 and 1986 thanks to a SANParks bursary.

He did a mandatory, albeit short stint in the military. During his second year of conscription he was deployed to Augrabies Falls National Park.

Lucius married the love of his life, Annake in December 1984 and out of their marriage a son and daughter were born. Today they also have three beautiful grandchildren to boot.

In 1989 he formally started his booming career at SANParks as a section ranger at Golden Gate National Park. At the end of 1989 he received a promotion to what was then known as Zuurberg National Park in the Eastern Cape as park manager. At that stage, Zuurberg and Addo Elephant National Park were two separate parks. By the end of 1991 he was promoted to the position of park manager of Addo Elephant National Park. He was stationed in Addo until 1996, during which time Addo and Zuurberg were combined into one park.

At the beginning of 1996 he returned to Golden Gate National Park, but this time as park manager for the next five years. By this time criss-crossing the country had almost become second nature. A return to Addo followed in mid-2001 and between 2002 and 2013 he performed the role of regional general manager of what is known as the Frontier Region of SANParks – overseeing Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo and Mountain Zebra national parks.

He’s been in Upington for the past eight years as the formidable force behind the Arid Region, ensuring that all the parks – namely Mokala National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Meerkat National Park, Augrabies Falls National Park, Namaqua National Park and |Ai|Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park – run smoothly.

Lucius is a self-confessed lover of nature and admits that he cannot sit still at home. He says he feels the need to be busy at all times, probably because of his upbringing on a farm. He loves gardening, fishing and hunting. Apart from his family, he says the following: “My garden is most probably my biggest love because I just love to see things grow and prosper.”

His favourite sport to play is golf and he jogs four times a week for health reasons. He loves to spend time outdoors and attributes growing up on a farm where he got his first taste of nature and the need to conserve it, therefore he couldn’t see himself in another role but to pursue a career at SANParks.

Lucius says he lives according to his mentor, Dr Anthony Hall-Martin’s wise words, who was a conservation stalwart and SANParks director: “Do you want things to be done for you or do you want to think for yourself, be innovative and do things yourself?”

Lucius says he learned extremely valuable lessons from Dr Hall-Martin, who was an icon of South African National Parks.

Lucius’ advice to his personnel is the following: “Do something that will have a huge impact and will be there even after your departure, something you can be proud of.” Results and innovation are the two most important credo’s he lives by.

He says the highlights of his very impressive career thus far is the guidance and support he gives on a daily basis to his personnel. To see people he’s appointed grow in their own careers is very satisfying to him. He sees one of his biggest tasks being that of a mentor in the same manner in which he was mentored during his career. His biggest success stories are the appointments of previously disadvantaged individuals and the successes they have made of their careers.

The Arid Region is extremely important to him and close to his heart. Even though each park is very remote in the Arid Region, every employee is happy where they are and are giving their utmost best despite difficult circumstances like being far from the nearest town and having to send their children to boarding schools hundreds of kilometres away from a very young age. The employees of the Arid Region are hard-working and happy even though they need to travel as far as 600km for the nearest medical care.

Lucius’ message to his colleagues and to others who are considering a career in SANParks is the following: “This must not just be another job for you, but rather a calling. You must have a passion for conserving nature, culture and heritage for humanity. We are one big family and we look after one other. Once you start a career within SANParks you must live and breathe as if it is your own business. It must not just be something you do to pass your time.”

In 2019 he received the prestigious SANParks’ Kudu Award for “Outstanding Leadership of the Year Award” for his extraordinary leadership skills and work ethics.

Colleagues only have the highest praise for his work. Johan de Klerk, park manager of Mokala National Park, says the following: “Lucius’s all-round expertise and experience in conservation management, tourism management, product development as well as general management and vast institutional knowledge makes him a valuable asset to the organisation. He is also an outstanding strategic planner and problem solver and encompasses the essence of a true mentor to others.”

Angela Isaks, park manager of Augrabies Falls National Park, has nothing but praise:” His exceptional good feel for enabling his staff to perform outstandingly and to successfully “revamp” incumbents into highly operating staff members on various levels ranging from park managers to general managers. He continually demonstrates high standards and excellent performance in his work and always believe in our abilities and capabilities to operate at a high level.

He is more than just a supervisor, a manager, a leader, a colleague and a boss! Indeed an iron man with a heart of nothing other than pure gold!”

His vision for SANParks is to have a meaningful impact that will live forever. Lucius believes that SANParks is a world-class organisation with tremendous potential for growth: “Parks within SANParks do not belong to the organisation but to the people of South Africa. SANParks only plays a role in conserving it for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone who visit the parks”.

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