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Message from the CEO of Peace Parks Foundation
Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation
Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation
The slight decrease in the number of rhino killed in South Africa in 2015 gave the first glimmer of hope since 2008, when the dramatic and exponential increase in the slaughter of rhino began. The number of poacher incursions from Mozambique into Kruger National Park also decreased and now represents less than 35% of the total. Both decreases indicate that the extensive and combined efforts on all fronts to stem the tide of rhino poaching are starting to yield positive results.

No specific reason for the change can be singled out, in the same way that there is no single solution to addressing wildlife crime.

Contributing to the reductions were the combined impact of increased investigative and anti-poaching activities, more frequent joint operations and better equipment, the deployment of the new Mozambican environmental police force and the revised  Mozambican Protected Areas Act. This Act has been brought in line with existing legislation in southern Africa to impose stiffer penalties and fines on wildlife criminals.

The highlight of the year in transfrontier conservation development was when President Peter Mutharika of Malawi and President Edgar Lungu of Zambia signed the treaty launching the development of the32 066 km2 Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) on 7 July 2015. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through KfW and GIZ, as implementing partners in conjunction with Peace Parks Foundation, took the bold step of making a significant grant available to develop this TFCA over the next decade. Another milestone was achieved when an agreement was signed between the Mozambican National Agency for Conservation Areas and Peace Parks Foundation to jointly develop Zinave National Park as an integral component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area.

2015 HIGHLIGHTS

In line with the approach to ‘act now’ and protect rhino while counter-trafficking and demand-reduction efforts mature, the Rhino Protection Programme supported the following initiatives:
  • improved infrastructure, communication and surveillance systems, equipment, vehicles and training in key protected areas
  • Kruger National Park and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s rhino orphan care, management and long-term repopulation strategies
  • the development of advanced technology solutions in line with global standards, including rapid-response pilot projects, as well as the further extended testing of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and radar detection systems
  • counter-trafficking and investigative operations in Mozambique
  • the commencement of a demand-reduction initiative in Vietnam, in partnership with the Wilderness Foundation Africa and Thanh Bui, a Vietnamese musician.
Other notable highlights on the TFCA front during the year under review include the following:
  • The foundation has continued its efforts to improve the livelihoods of communities and has supplied fresh water to almost 11 000 people and food security to 870 households.
  • Wildlife watching represents 80% of the total annual sales of trips to Africa. To encourage this, more wildlife species were reintroduced to key areas in TFCAs. Almost 7 000 animals have been translocated since 2001.
  • A vibrant cross-border tourism industry is developing in a number of the TFCAs, bringing much-needed income to the parks and the local communities. /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld now hosts the Desert Knights Mountain Bike Tour and the Desert Kayak Trails. In Greater Mapungubwe TFCA, 340 people participated in the 11th Nedbank Tour de Tuli mountain bike event.
  • Contributing to both tourism industry development and conservation are the two colleges that Peace Parks Foundation supports. The SA College for Tourism trained another 89 hospitality students and 16 trackers this year. The Southern African Wildlife College trained another 50 students in the Higher and Advanced Certificate Programmes in Nature Conservation and TFCA management and a total of 2 000 students in a variety of short courses.
While these are all positive developments, we recognise that much more needs to be done to alleviate poverty while preserving nature. To this end, we are very pleased to announce the establishment of a dedicated community development section at Peace Parks Foundation. In 2008, the foundation started integrated development planning to consult members of adjacent communities and traditional structures, along with government and private-sector entities, in the development of the respective TFCAs. This process resulted in the implementation of a number of socio-economic development projects, such as conservation agriculture, small-business development, the provision of alternative energy sources and the establishment of wildlife conservancies. This portfolio has expanded to such an extent that a dedicated and specialised team is now needed to support the opportunities for communities living in and adjacent to TFCAs.

It is often stated, but worth reiterating, that successful conservation efforts depend on the support and involvement of and ownership by local people living in and adjacent to the peace parks. Without coexistence between people and nature, there will be no future for Africa’s wildlife – an important and valuable resource for economic development.

Thank you to all our friends, colleagues, dedicated staff and donors for your continued generosity and support.