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A new frontier

21 August 2006

Cape Times Editorial

THE environmental advantages of transfrontier parks are obvious. Surely nature can only gain from the removal of fences that keep animals apart and cut through ecosystems.

It is just so much better for the health of wildlife that species are able to roam more freely and for habitats to be managed in an integrated way.

So, from the conservation point of view alone, there is every reason to be pleased with the official opening last week of the Giriyondo border post between Kruger National Park and Mozambique's Limpopo Park.

Its purpose may be to serve as a crossing point for humans, but in a way it represents the most meaningful step yet towards the removal of the kilometres of high-security boundary fence that cut through the scenic landscape.

But there is evidently more to it all than environmental considerations. This is already evident from the high-brow treatment of the opening.

The honours were done by none other than the presidents themselves of the three countries involved, including Zimbabwe, whose Gonarezhou Park should one day, the return of sanity permitting, be joined with the other two parks to give practical effect to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

It was President Thabo Mbeki who unveiled the broader vision. He spoke of the opening of the border post as the beginning of a new era of bringing down colonial fences that separated animals and people.

President Mbeki spoke of it as marking the beginning of a new era of collaboration, of opening the way to joint tourism, and of encouraging co-operation towards the socio-economic upliftment of the region.

We may well wonder then, what was Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe doing there?

But whatever it is, we do not think it should detract from the transfrontier-park development and the hope it inspires of co-operation in southern Africa.

It should forge ahead.

Cape Times - 21 August 2006

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