Southern African News Features                                           SANF 12 No 12, April 2012

The world’s largest transfrontier park


The world’s largest transfrontier park became a reality in March when the Kavango-Zambezi was launched by five southern African countries.

Environment ministers from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe launched the Kavango-Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) at a ceremony in Katima Mulilo, Namibia.

The historic launch followed signing of the treaty by the Heads of State and Government of the respective countries in August 2011.

Situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of the five countries converge, the KAZA TFCA covers an area of about 444,000 square kilometers consisting of 36 national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas.

The conservation area boasts of numerous tourist attractions such as the Victoria Falls between Zambia and Zimbabwe, San Rock paintings in Botswana, whitewater rafting and other water sports, and the absorbing wildlife population in the region.

This high concentration of attractions is expected to create an entirely new assortment of tourism opportunities in southern Africa, presenting new opportunities for socio-economic development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), thus strengthening socio-economic development and integration.

The opportunities include the joint marketing of attractions, presenting prospective tourists with a wide range of opportunities and experiences.

A joint report by the Peace Parks Foundation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa predicts that the conservation area could attract as many as eight million tourists to the region annually as well as creating employment for thousands of people.

Speaking at the launch, the representatives of partner countries reaffirmed their commitment to regional economic integration through sustainable management of transboundary natural resources and tourism development, adding that implementation should be accelerated.

They said that tangible results should be delivered to the local communities since they are the owners of the natural resources and bear huge opportunity costs associated with biodiversity conservation such as human-wildlife conflicts.

Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said it is the responsibility of all the five countries to ensure that KAZA TFCA is developed as a sustainable conservation and tourism development programme.

“Harmonizing natural resource management approaches and tourism development across our international boundaries will enhance the ecosystem’s integrity and natural ecological processes,” she said.

The establishment of the KAZA TFCA is founded on the SADC ideals articulated in the Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999, which commits Member States to “promote the conservation of shared wildlife resources through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas.”

The participating countries made the first major step towards this goal in December 2006 when ministers responsible for tourism and natural resources gathered in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to sign a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding to develop the conservation area.

The establishment of the KAZA TFCA is expected to be a new benchmark for southern Africa to strengthen regional projects and promote more transfrontier parks in the region.

The transfrontier conservation areas concept is based on the principle that the flow of nature, including rivers, wind, vegetation and animals, is not bound by political boundaries.

Existing TFCAs in the SADC region include the Greater Limpopo TFCA which straddles Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe; and the Lubombo TFCA shared by Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland.

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