Kavango-Zambezi park deal inked

The transfrontier national park, the Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) is reported to be 14 times the size of South Africa’s Kruger National Park and almost as big as European country, Italy.

The park will be situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. The park covers an area of 287 132 square kilometres.

In an announcement early this week, Peace Parks Foundation said that ministers of tourism from the five countries signed the agreement in the Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls a week ago.

Peace Parks Foundation said that the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA is going to link 36 national parks, games reserves, community conservancies and game management areas.

Mostly notably the area will include the Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park, Okavango Delta and world heritage site and one of the seven wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls. Okavango Delta is the largest Ramsar site in the world.

“The main function of such a park is of course conservation, primarily because it creates ecological linkages that cross international bordes and allows movement of wildlife across these barriers. It is vital to secure these links.

“But if managed well, these parks can have major tourist spin-offs,”said Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation project manager.

Myburgh said that several donors have already been lined up to support ‘this noble conservation and development initiative.’

The German Development Bank is reported to have expressed willingness to fund the project.

“One of the reasons is that it allows freer movement of tourists between game areas.

“For instance, if a tourist is in Zambia and wants to go to the Caprivi, they will have to go through about four international border posts, but once the Kavango-Zambezi is established, tourists could move there freely,” Myburgh said.

He said that the park will have about 250 000 elephants adding that the free movement of animals will curb culling of the animals.

Estimates say that there are about 120 000 elephants in Botswana, 10 000 in Kafue whilst Angola has none.

For the park to succeed, governments will have to bring down border fences, remove landmines and avoid settlement of people along rivers and roads.

Officials said that the park, which is going to be formalised in 2010 would use South Africa’s hosting of the soccer World Cup as a drawing card to the global tourist.

Soccer World Cup usually draw wide international coverage and fans presenting an opportunity to market the region’s tourism potential, officials said.

December 2006
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