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SOUTHERN AFRICA'S TRANSFRONTIER "PEACE" PARKS

Man and animals have always been competing for space and now more so than ever. Animals are being squeezed into smaller and smaller areas with dire consequences if they should enter mans' space. A less obvious result of this is that animals' natural migratory paths have been distrupted which has forced "unnatural" human intervention in managing animal populations and habitats.

An initiative that can help reverse this is the creation of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) or "Peace Parks" - cross border jointly managed natural resources. The removal of boundaries opens larger tracts of commonly managed land allowing a more natural flow of animals in a larger area.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999 defines a TFCA as "the area or component of a large ecological region that straddles the boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas as well as multiple resource use areas". The good news is that SADC political leaders have recognised the importance of TFCAs and have dedicated effort to make them a reality. Just yesterday, at a ministerial meeting that took place on the banks of the Zambezi River in Katima Mulilo, five SADC ministers with the portfolios of environment and tourism in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe expressed satisfaction with the progress made on the proposed trans-frontier tourism park.

There are 7 Southern Africa Peace Park initiatives at various stages of proposal or development but as many as 15 parks proposed by the Peace Park Foundation.

Here are some of the initiatives <http://www.peaceparks.org/Parks_1022100000_0_0_0_0_0_Parks.htm> with the greatest traction:

Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park:
A vast mountain desert that is the Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld National Park, an area managed jointly by the local Nama people and the South African National Parks. straddles the borders of South Africa and Namibia. It consists of the 1 625 square kilometre Richtersveld National Park (a World Heritage Site) in South Africa and the 4 420 square kilometres /Ai-/Ais National Park in Namibia.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: An amalgamation of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa (proclaimed in 1931)and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares - one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world.

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park: The most well known initiative links Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, Gonarezhou National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area in Zimbabwe, as well as two areas between Kruger and Gonarezhou - the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Makuleke region in South Africa. The park presently covers 35 000 square kilometres but will eventually expand to a staggering 100 000 square kilometres. Ultimately is may run to the coast- to bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.

Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area: The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area straddles the borders of Swaziland, southern Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal and consists of five distinct transfrontier conservation areas (including the current Tembi Park) that are woven together by the Lubombo Mountains, a long and narrow mountain range threading across these three countries.

Maloti - Drakensburg: The Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Consefvation Area straddles the borders of South Africa and Lesotho and includes the Maloti and Drakensberg Mountain ranges.

Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area: The Limpopo-Shashe park straddles the international borders of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe and is situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers.

Kavango - Zambezi: The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is situated in the Okavango and Zambezi River basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It spans an area of approximately 287 132 square kilometres and will include 36 national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas. KAZA was initiated on the 7th December 2006 by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the 5 countries.

Sustainable conservation is the core of the dream that man and animals can live together and that tourist dollars would assist in the upliftment of local rural communities. Unfortunately Zimbabwe's politics and instability are a cause for concern and delay. Problems currently being addressed are border crossings, expensive visa and high vehicle taxes imposed on non Southern African residents. The dream, however, is underway with a far bigger dream to follow - imagine a trans-frontier park spanning right across Africa incorporating the above trans-frontier parks and untimately inking with the Etosha pan and the skeleton coast of Namibia - a wildlife dream that could one day materialize.

"In a world beset by conflicts and division, peace is one of the cornerstones of the future. Peace parks are a building block in this process, not only in our region, but potentially in the entire world." Nelson Mandela

Resources:

Peace Parks Foundation <http://www.peaceparks.org/Home.htm>

Peace Parks Foundation is a non-profit organisation that facilitates the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas (peace parks)* and develops human resources, thereby supporting sustainable economic development, the conservation of biodiversity and regional peace and stability.

Boundless Southern Africa <http://www.boundlessinvest.com/>

Launched at the 2008 Tourism Indaba in Durban, Boundless Southern Africa is the marketing brand chosen by nine Southern African countries to represent some of the best tourism products the region has to offer: the Transfrontier Conservation Areas

(TFCAs).

SANParks <http://www.sanparks.org/> - Southern African national Parks