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05 Jul 2022
When neighbours take hands, good things can happen, as has been proven time and again when staff and management of the Kruger and Limpopo national parks work together.
This collaborative relationship was recently cemented when the first joint park management committee was established, and met in April for the first time. The aim is to increase collaboration between the management of Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park and South Africa’s Kruger National Park, as integral and adjacent components of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Particular issues that the first joint park management committee will focus on include protection, conservation management, tourism development, community benefits, communication and fundraising.
This is not the first time that the managers of these parks have taken hands. They have previously collaborated on a number of strategic anti-poaching interventions, with great success. The interventions have included improved cross-border collaboration and operations, joint training initiatives and the development of a joint communications system.
Several recent arrests, as a result of these collaborations, are signs that a strengthened partnership between the two parks is bearing fruit. During a joint operation, during which approximately 12 roadblocks were manned in Limpopo National Park and the areas around Massingir town, a .458 rifle with five rounds of ammunition was seized along with a 12-guage shotgun. Two poaching suspects were arrested and two vehicles impounded.
As part of Operation Lebombo, the two parks continue to collaborate on anti-poaching activities, particularly in the area along the border. The ongoing initiative involves regular meetings between the protection forces of both countries, as well as combined operations and information sharing.
The parks are also reaping the benefits of the Peace Parks Foundation-administered Rhino Protection Programme. Funded by the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries and numerous private donors, the project focuses on interventions and projects that will strengthen the combat against rhino poaching. A key component is the implementation of measures as stipulated in the memorandum of understanding (MoU), the Cooperation Agreement for Biodiversity Conservation and Management, signed between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique on 17 April 2014. One of the first measures to be implemented was the creation of an intensive protection zone (an area where people are not allowed) along the western border of Limpopo National Park.
In support of the development and implementation of a joint, cross-border communications network, an information and intelligence-sharing mechanism was established. In addition, a joint training initiative was undertaken in 2014, in collaboration with the Southern African Wildlife College and the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ). Twelve rangers, four from each of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park partner countries were trained in anti-poaching operations and readiness.
Story by Piet Theron
International Coordinator: Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
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