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Kavango-Zambezi TFCA's MoU signed

11 December 2006

Conservation & Tourism for Socio-Economic Development

The cornerstone for Africa's largest transfrontier conservation area (TFCA), the Kavango Zambezi TFCA was laid today with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the five participating countries to jointly work towards the establishment of the TFCA.

The Minister of Hotels and Tourism of Angola, Mr Eduardo Jonatao Chingunji; the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism of Botswana, Mr Kitso Mokaila; the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia, Mr Willem Konjore; the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources of Zambia, Mr Kabinga J. Pande, and the Minister of Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, Mr Francis Nhema today signed the Memorandum of Understanding during a ceremony at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

The Kavango Zambezi TFCA is situated in the Okavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It will span an area of approximately 287 132 km?, almost the size of Italy (300 979 km?), and will include 36 national parks, game reserves, community conservancies and game management areas. Most notably the area will include the Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta (the largest Ramsar Site in the World) and the Victoria Falls (World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World). The KAZA TFCA promises to be southern Africa's premier tourist destination with the largest contiguous population of the African elephant (approximately 250,000) in the continent. Conservation and tourism are therefore seen as the vehicle for socio-economic development of the region.

To provide guidance on the way forward in developing the TFCA and identifying suitable projects for implementation, the governments of the five participating countries commissioned a pre-feasibility study, facilitated and co-funded by Peace Parks Foundation, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Netherlands and the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation. The study sets out specific targets for implementation in the process of the TFCA's formal establishment through the signing of a treaty between the partner countries before 2010.

The Kavango Zambezi TFCA is one of twenty existing and potential transfrontier conservation areas in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The 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 Protocol commits the member states to promote the conservation of shared wildlife resources through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas. The KAZA TFCA will epitomize that desire and be the flagship TFCA in the region. The establishment and development of this TFCA, will lead to a significant enhancement of socio-economic development in the region based on nature-based or wildlife-based tourism, including safari hunting, promote a culture of peace and regional cooperation, and above all joining together fragmented habitat patches to enhance the conservation of biological resources.

Today's signing ceremony is indicative of the enormous political will that exists to establish Africa's largest TFCA. As is the case with southern Africa's other TFCA initiatives, the establishment of the KAZA TFCA will again be a partnership between governments, local communities and the private sector. While the main players are the five governments and their respective stakeholders, donors and NGOs will also play significant roles in its establishment. Several major donors have already expressed an interest to support this noble conservation and development initiative.

Issued on behalf of the governments of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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