Biodiversity, Community, Community Development, Conservation, General, Great Limpopo TFCA, Herding 4 Health, Lower Zambezi - Mana Pools TFCA, Lubombo TFCA, Malawi Zambia TFCA, Mozambique, Nyika National Park, Partnerships, Rewilding, TFCAs, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve

A Year of Impactful Partnerships

If there is one thing that Peace Parks Foundation understands, it is the value of partnerships. It is the ultimate key to conservation success. When working at the scale that we do, we cannot do it alone. We need to join hands with like-minded organisations, drawing on the strengths that each role player brings to the table. 

For Peace Parks Foundation, 2023 was a phenomenal year, also thanks to the support of our dedicated partners. As it has been for the last 26 years, we extend our deepest appreciation to the governments we work with. In Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we have strengthened existing projects and forged new, groundbreaking models to protect and sustain transboundary landscapes and the communities dependent on them.  

We are at the heart of a pioneering phase of conservation management models evolving in Africa, and this year brought two significant developments for Peace Parks as a partner to governments.  

In June, we signed a 20-year co-management agreement with the Government of Malawi to secure the long-term protection and sustainability of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Nyika is Malawi’s oldest, largest national park and a vital water catchment area, whilst Vwaza is a unique wetland and Ramsar Site. For the first time in the country’s history, an independent Trust is being established that will professionally manage these conservation areas while bringing together the Government, NGOs, private sector and communities on equal footing.   

In June, Malawi’s Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Vera Kamtukule, and Peace Parks’ CEO Werner Myburgh, signed a ground-breaking 20-year co-management agreement for Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. The signature took place in the presence of His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, and His Excellency Mr. Joaquim Chissano, former president of Mozambique and Vice-Chairman of Peace Parks Foundation’s Board of Directors.

More recently, in November of this year, the Government of Zimbabwe also signed an agreement with Peace Parks to co-manage the iconic Greater Mana Pools Ecosystem over the next 20 years. The same powerful principle applies here.

Through an innovative, inclusive conservation model we can unlock significant social and economic development of the area. And, as people and nature are intimately connected, this approach will ensure the sustainable flow of benefits both to biodiversity and to those living in the landscape. 

Nyika and Vwaza together contribute as much as 10% of the annual water catchment for Lake Malawi on which more than 10 million people are directly dependent for their livelihoods. To safeguard such a critically important ecosystem through this long-term co-management agreement paves the way for a new and inclusive governance model for sustaining and empowering communities, and conserving large landscapes in Africa.

At the Africa Climate Summit in September, Peace Parks and Conservation International proudly announced a firm, long-term and far-reaching partnership commitment, with funding of USD 150 million made possible through various partners and donors. Together, our target is to restore 20 million hectares of degraded rangelands over the next decade by scaling up our Herding for Health model – an immensely successful climate smart rangeland management approach. Herding for Health is currently operational across 2.5 million hectares, and seven countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. This simple yet highly scalable model combines indigenous and scientific knowledge to develop grazing plans, and manage animal diseases, with the ultimate aim to restore the ecological balance and natural diversity of rangelands.   

Herding for Health is a community-driven livestock management model for rangeland restoration, biodiversity conservation and improved livelihoods; the programme supports Africa’s rangelands to thrive for the benefit of people and nature. Success here is wildlife protected and communities being able to support themselves economically, and nutritionally, building a new resilience to climate change across landscapes.

The progress of Maputo National Park’s ambitious Blue Action Fund programme this year shone a bright light on the power of collaboration in the pursuit of harmony between humans and nature. Financed through a generous grant from Blue Action Fund, with the German Government as a sub-grantee, Peace Parks is working closely with expert partners to protect and strengthen the unique coastal ecosystems here, whilst benefiting thousands of people within 23 vulnerable and resource-reliant communities. Through this programme, we are equipping communities with the skills, infrastructure, and knowledge they need to be able to use natural resources responsibly, sustain their livelihoods, and become adaptable and resilient in the face of climate change.  

Our partnerships with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas, Exxaro Resources and Conservation Solutions, with the support of the Government of South Africa, continued to reap immense rewilding rewards. The last in a series of three landmark translocations from South Africa took place, firmly reestablishing a total of 37 white and black rhino in Zinave National Park. Four healthy new calves of both species were born, bringing great joy and affirming that herds are healthy and thriving in their revived ecosystem. This has been an incredible voyage – seeing one threatened and one critically endangered species return and witnessing both ecosystems and tourism beginning to flourish to the benefit of local communities.  

In an extraordinary achievement for transboundary conservation and community livelihoods, five white and five black rhino were successfully translocated from South Africa to Zinave National Park, Mozambique, joining the 27 relocated last year. This marks a significant milestone in the park’s ongoing restoration efforts.

In Maputo National Park, five spotted hyena were also introduced, continuing to build the carnivore guild in this remarkable landscape. Our rewilding projects are a great source of pride for us and those we collaborate with, and to see this process happen by itself continues to fuel our determination in the work that we do. The natural lion migrations to Limpopo and Zinave national parks are a testament to the restored health of these ecosystems, and the importance of ecological linkages between protected areas. Here, rangers have been overjoyed to report sightings of several prides that have made their way to the parks and in the pursuit of food, and found freedom in safe and thriving hunting grounds.  

Throughout our history we have seen time and time again that if you give nature an opportunity to bounce back, it will. And much faster than you would think.

In August, five spotted hyena were translocated to Maputo National Park from Sabie Game Park, in Mozambique. The population is ready and able to grow thanks to immense and ongoing rewilding efforts by the National Administration for Conservation Areas and Peace Parks. With the greater ecosystem returning to health and balance, and prey numbers on the rise, apex predators can now claim their vital place in the landscape.

In the full aerial census undertaken in Zinave, Limpopo, Banhine and Maputo national parks, we learned that numbers have more than doubled in some areas since starting reintroductions. In Maputo National Park, where we’ve introduced over 5,000 game animals since 2010, we counted 15,800 animals – a three-fold increase. Zinave is showing a 20% growth per annum in most of the common species, Limpopo National Park revealed a wider distribution of species and elephant numbers on the rise and, in Banhine’s first ever census, populations of buffalo, elephant and ostrich were particularly encouraging.  Across all four parks, results speak to collaborative efforts making a measurable positive impact in our areas of operation.  

While we acknowledge the governments who enable and support our work, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our staff, donors and funders. The positive effect of your commitment and support is echoing through vast landscapes and thousands of households. You are helping to inspire a movement to secure a sustainable future for Africa’s unique and globally significant ecosystems.  

Peace Parks Foundation celebrates its dedicated team – from the field to head office – for their contributions made and care taken in the conservation challenges and wins of the year. The work that we do at the scale we aspire to is made possible by the very best and most passionate people, working together.

Through the combined power of our collaborations, we can continue on our mission to secure 980,000 km² of functional transboundary landscapes throughout southern Africa by 2050, where people and nature will not only co-exist but thrive.

Werner Myburgh

CEO, Peace Parks Foundation


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