Though Gonarezhou’s elephant population is still doing well, management is tackling the potential threat of wildlife crime head-on. The budding ranger corps is increasing, and rising to the challenge of protecting Zimbabwe’s iconic wildlife.
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 Great Limpopo on 9 December 2002. In 2006 the Giriyondo tourist access facility between Limpopo and Kruger national parks was opened. Almost 5 000 animals were translocated from Kruger to Limpopo National Park. This, combined with 50 km of fencing being dropped, has encouraged more animals, including over 1 000 elephants and over 1 000 buffaloes, 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 also far advanced. The
first trial run on a transboundary wilderness walking trail was held in the Pafuri area in 2013.
Great Limpopo has identified a range of cross-border tourism products that could be developed in the context of the transboundary initiative and in partnership with a variety of key stakeholders. These products include transboundary wilderness trails, self-drive 4x4 trails and the development of a cross-border tourism node in the Pafuri/Sengwe area that forms the heart of the transfrontier park.
From 5 to 8 September 2014, two groups of six people each, plus two guides per trail, participated in what has become known as the Trans-Limpopo Walking Trail, from the Makuleke area in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to Zimbabwe’s Sengwe area. The trail was also linked to the one-day Shangane cultural event in the Sengwe area, resulting in the flow of tangible benefits to two of Great
Limpopo’s community areas.
In a major step to market Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, the park launched its own website, Facebook page and Twitter account in October 2014. As part of its marketing strategy, Great Limpopo’s joint management board resolved to erect signage at strategic entrance gates in the three partner countries. Prominently displaying the logo, the signboards will inform tourists that they are entering the transfrontier park.
Throughout the year, senior officials from Limpopo and Kruger national parks met and focused on a number of strategic anti-poaching interventions. These include the implementation of a joint training programme, improved cross-border collaboration, joint operations and a joint communications strategy. At an operational level, Operation Capricorn focused on strategic anti-poaching operations along the border region of the two parks. In addition to day-to-day communications, regular border site meetings were held between the respective parks’ operational units, with a focus on intelligence sharing, joint strategic deployment of patrols and waylay operations. The Kruger unit also offered significant operational support. Cooperation between the parks will get a further boost once Limpopo National Park’s new digital radio network upgrade is completed because it will make joint cross-border radio communications possible.
Thanks to the approval of the South African border authorities and with the appropriate monitoring and control measures in place, Limpopo National Park patrols are being deployed along the Kruger National Park boundary road. As a result of the transfrontier collaboration and joint operations, incursions along the border have dropped significantly. On 17 April Mozambique and South Africa signed a memorandum
of understanding on biodiversity, conservation and management, with a view to addressing the scourge of rhino poaching in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Read more about the efforts to combat wildlife crime in Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.