Lozis Embrace Replica Skins to Save Leopards
09 March 2020
Twenty years ago today, Peace Parks Foundation was founded by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Nelson Mandela and Dr Anton Rupert to facilitate the establishment of peace parks, or transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs), in southern Africa.
Southern Africa’s peace parks today incorporate over half of the declared conservation estate in the region. At over a million square kilometres, they rival the combined landmass of France and Spain. The achievements have been thanks to the political will of the region’s leaders, the dedication of government and private sector entities and individuals, and the extraordinary and continued support of donors worldwide.
Under the chairmanship of Johann Rupert, the aim is to facilitate the delivery of fully functional peace parks, managed in harmony with their surrounding communities, to create sustainable local, national and regional benefit flows.
To develop TFCAs as tourist destinations, over 10 000 wildlife species have been reintroduced to areas where they’d been depleted.
To engender the sustainability of the peace parks, the foundation supports the training of wildlife managers and field guides in the essential skills of managing parks and conservation areas at the Southern African Wildlife College near Hoedspruit. It also supports the training of women at the SA College for Tourism in Graaff-Reinet in a year-long course that focuses on developing skills in the hospitality service industry. Thus equipped, the students are able to return home and find employment in the tourism industry supported by TFCAs. Since 2010, the college also annually trains 16 young men at its Tracker Academy with the aim of preserving the age-old traditional knowledge and skill of tracking. Over 16 000 students have been trained at the two colleges since inception.
To better understand the complex yet important linkages between the health of humans, animals and the environment, the foundation is supporting the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station, where researchers focus on the transfrontier interface between people, livestock and wildlife.
Since 2013, the foundation has been assisting the region’s governments to combat wildlife crime, with a first focus on countering rhino poaching, and is pleased to have seen a decline in poaching statistics over the past two years. Supported by Cartier, the foundation and Panthera are working to conserve the world’s most persecuted big cat – the leopard.
A dedicated community development section is focusing on alleviating poverty while preserving nature, bettering the lives of some 29 000 people.
The peace parks of southern Africa present a powerful vision of a shared ecological heritage and a mutually sustainable future.