Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Areaon May 31, 2012
The Falls Resort is now in the centre of the largest Conservation Area in the world. The Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) became a reality in March this year. All the five governments of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola signed their agreement.
The conservation area includes parts of all five countries – Chobe National Park in Botswana, Bwabwata National Park in Namibia, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Luiana Protected Area in Angola and Kafue National Park in Zambia. Altogether there are over 20 parks or protected areas included in KAZA. It is an area of almost 280,000 sq km, and nearly the same size as Nevada State.
It is an enormous commitment by the five countries and shows their care for the environment. We are all very excited about it. The final plan will be to allow free movement of animals throughout the region and eventually people too. The hope is that when visiting the Falls Resort visitors will be allowed to travel to any park within the area without needing to pass through border controls. What an amazing concept, if this were to become a reality!
Although there is a long way to go to before this happens, we are taking it one step at a time. The Peace Parks Foundation which is overseeing the project is sending experts to the Chiefs in the area and helping them to set up conservancies of their own. In this way the animals will be free to move from one park to another; the conservancies will form corridors.
The villagers, of course, are used to farming much of the land and it is important that they do not lose their livelihoods by leaving their farms. Peace Parks has come up with ways of utilizing the land in a sustainable way, by harvesting medicines; erecting beehives for honey and earning an income from tourism. Some villages which are being harassed by elephants are even being fenced to keep the people safe.
Elephants are one of the animals which will benefit most from KAZA. In Botswana and Zimbabwe the populations are too high and there have been discussions about culling some. Although we all love elephants they can be destructive; they have huge appetites. By allowing them to move to Angola, Zambia and Namibia the pressure will be off the other parks.
It will be many years before Peace Parks fulfills the dreams for KAZA but with government support it has made a major step forward.