Wildlife corridors — from divide and conquer to connect and restore
04 Feb 2022
Peace Parks Foundation is mourning the passing of a true giant in southern African conservation and a deeply respected former colleague, Mr Sedia Modise, who was a pioneering figure in the formalisation of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) across the region.
Mr Modise was driven by an unwavering passion and dedication towards the cross-border conservation concept. His career in conservation spanned more than 40 years, starting with his appointment as Game Warden (Environmental Education) at the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in Botswana. He steadily climbed his way up the ranks to become Director of the DWNP, where he was at the helm of negotiations to establish Africa’s first TFCA, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which was formalised through a Treaty signed by the Heads of State of Botswana and South Africa in 1999. He also led the Botswana team in the formulation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement of 1999 —a defining influence in the promotion of shared management of natural resources straddling the boundaries of SADC Member States.
In 2000, Mr Modise joined Peace Parks Foundation, where his foresight, vision and fierce commitment continued to drive the formation of southern African TFCAs. In 2007, he took on the immense responsibility of guiding the formalisation of the world’s largest terrestrial TFCA, in his capacity as first International Coordinator for the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA, leading the drafting of the KAZA Treaty in 2011, crafting key long-term strategic elements and securing vital developmental funding. He was also the first International Coordinator for the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA, and had an instrumental hand in formalising the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld, Great Limpopo and Malawi-Zambia TFCAs. In 2018, at the age of 68, he embarked on a well-deserved retirement after a career of glittering service to southern African conservation and communities.
As Mr Modise himself said during an interview with the SADC shortly before his retirement: “I can’t think, talk or dream without TFCA at the end!”
Peace Parks Foundation CEO Werner Myburgh describes Mr Modise as a man of immense fortitude, unending passion and humility.
He was held in the highest regard by all who were fortunate enough to cross his path, not only for his vast experience and landmark achievements in the conservation space, but also for his calibre as a person. He was a true conservation pioneer, but at the same time always humble and willing to share his deep wisdom and wealth of knowledge.
“We faced many setbacks and victories together, and through all the ups and downs, Sedia always reminded me that in conservation one should never despair: we are simply not allowed this luxury as there is a greater task at hand. What a wonderful human being, a great mentor and loyal friend. He will be sorely missed.”
Peace Parks Foundation’s board, management and staff extend their deepest condolences to Mr Modise’s wife Oitshepile Modise, his three children Sedia Modise Jnr, Ludo and Karabo, and all of his extended family and friends.