A key factor that has added to the success in arrests of poachers in the area west of the Kruger National Park has been the use of trained dogs. The Southern African Wildlife College now has a canine anti-poaching training unit, with dog kennels and a full-time professional dog master. read more
Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park straddles the borders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe and joins some of the most established wildlife areas in southern Africa into a huge conservation area of 37 572km² (± the size of the Netherlands). This forms the core of the second-phase transfrontier conservation area (TFCA), measuring almost 100 000km² - the world's greatest animal kingdom.
The larger transfrontier conservation area will include Banhine and Zinave national parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe bordering on the transfrontier park.
The heads of state of the three partner countries signed a treaty establishing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area on 9 December 2002. In 2006 the Giriyondo tourist access facility between the Limpopo and Kruger national parks was opened. Almost 5 000 heads of game have been translocated from Kruger to Limpopo National Park. This, combined with 50 km of fencing being dropped, has encouraged more animals, including over 1 000 elephant and over 1 000 buffalo, to cross the border of their own accord.
The harmonisation and integration of various policies to improve the cooperative management of the park are under way. Processes such as introducing a joint operations protocol and developing cross-border tourism products that will optimise Great Limpopo’s tourism development opportunities are far advanced. In 2013 a wilderness walking trail in the Pafuri area was launched, the first of a range of cross-border tourism products to be developed in the context of the transboundary initiative and in partnership with a variety of key stakeholders.
In a major step to market Great Limpopo, its website, Facebook page and Twitter account were launched in 2014.
In April 2014 Mozambique and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on biodiversity conservation and management, with a view to addressing the scourge of rhino poaching in Great Limpopo. Throughout the year, senior officials from Limpopo and Kruger national parks met and focused on a number of strategic anti-poaching interventions. As a result of the transfrontier collaboration and joint operations, incursions along the border have dropped significantly.
On 31 March 2015, Limpopo National Park hosted a high-level meeting between Mozambique’s Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Mr Celso Correia, and his South African counterpart, Mrs Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs. The ministers discussed the implementation plan of the MoU on biodiversity conservation and management that was signed in 2014. The implementation plan aims to facilitate coordinated law enforcement operations and the management and protection of Great Limpopo TFCA and its component protected areas.
The managers of Limpopo and Kruger national parks had previously successfully collaborated on a number of strategic anti-poaching interventions, including improved cross-border collaboration and operations, joint training initiatives and the development of a joint communications system. To formalise and expand these collaborative activities, a joint park management committee for Limpopo and Kruger national parks met for the first time on 9 April 2015. The committee focuses on matters such as protection, conservation management, tourism development, community benefits, communication and fundraising. A joint wildlife-crime strategy was developed to guide collaboration, and bilateral wildlife-crime meetings between the two park managers and field rangers are held regularly. Joint operations such as Capricorn have been very successful, often leading to arrests and the recovery of firearms and related poaching equipment.
On 22 September 2015, a co-management agreement was signed for Zinave National Park. In terms of this agreement, the Mozambican National Agency for Conservation Areas and Peace Parks Foundation will jointly develop and manage Zinave as an integral component of Great Limpopo. A process is also under way to integrate into Great Limpopo the concession areas adjacent to Gonarezhou National Park in the north and the Greater Lubombo Conservancy located on the south-eastern boundary of Kruger National Park. In addition, following a training needs assessment, a joint training programme is being developed for Great Limpopo.
Over the past five years, two PhD researchers have documented a large diversity of wildlife species in Limpopo National Park with the use of camera-traps. The 49 mammal species above 3 kg that were snapped include bat-eared fox, aardwolf, African wild dog, serval, lion, cheetah, giraffe, elephant, hyena, zebra, eland and roan and sable antelope. The project goal is to provide the necessary information to improve the transboundary conservation management of key predator species such as lion, cheetah and African wild dog. The research has also identified and assessed potential corridors linking Limpopo and Banhine national parks. Along with the recent realignment of the Banhine National Park borders, the Limpopo National Park management has initiated the demarcation and protection of these corridors to develop ecological interconnectivity in Great Limpopo.
Sharing the benefits of Great Limpopo with those living in the surrounding area has been an important objective from the outset and a strategy for attaining this is taking shape. In 2015, the Great Limpopo joint management board commissioned the development of an integrated livelihoods diversification strategy, which was finalised in 2016. An integrated strategy to address the poisoning of elephants, lions and vultures in the area is also being developed.
The third successful Pafuri Wilderness Trail and Shangane Festival cross-border tourism event involving the South African and Zimbabwean components was held in October. The TFCA has identified a range of cross-border tourism products to be developed. These include transboundary wilderness trails, self-drive 4×4 trails and the development of a cross-border tourism node in the Pafuri—Sengwe area, which forms the heart of the TFCA.