To ensure functionality within the KAZA TFCA, we have identified two key elements that need our attention. First we have to engage in field level interventions aimed at ensuring habitat integrity and ecosystem functionality, especially where the ecosystems transcend the borders of the countries. Secondly we need to address cross cutting issues that are deemed essential for all five partner countries, namely tourism and community development.
A key objective of KAZA is to ensure connectivity between key wildlife areas, and where necessary, join fragmented wildlife habitats in order to form an interconnected mosaic of protected areas, as well as restore transboundary wildlife migratory corridors between wildlife dispersal areas (WDAs). These corridors re-establish and conserve large-scale ecological processes that extend beyond the boundaries of protected areas.
Within the KAZA TFCA, six geographically specific WDAs have been identified. These areas offer critical ecological and, in particular, wildlife movement linkages between protected areas across the landscape. The six wildlife dispersal areas include the Zambezi-Chobe Floodplain; Hwange-Kazuma–Chobe; Kwando; Zambezi-Mosi Oa Tunya; Hwange-Makgadikgadi-Nxai; and Khaudum-Ngamiland.
Currently, we focus on two of these:
Chobe-Zambezi Floodplain WDA
One of the prioritised wildlife dispersal areas is the Zambezi-Chobe Floodplain WDA, a large wetland shared between Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, of which the Simalaha Community Conservancy, the eastern Zambezi region in Namibia, and the wetlands of the Chobe National Park in Botswana. There are currently several community conservation areas and community development initiatives which support the development of this wildlife dispersal area on both sides of the Zambia and Namibia border.
The overall objective is to develop a sustainable wildlife economy in the Zambezi-Chobe Floodplain WDA within the KAZA TFCA based on strong community ownership, benefit sharing, resource protection and integrated management of agriculture, settlements and services. This will enhance livelihoods, secure wildlife corridors and dispersal areas and expand the wildlife economy in the area between Chobe (Botswana) and Kafue (Zambia) national parks.
Peace Parks Foundation has also worked with the Mwandi and Sekute chiefdoms over the past eight years to develop the Simalaha Community Conservancy in Zambia. Mutual agreement has culminated in a 24 000 hectare wildlife sanctuary as part of a 180 000 hectare community conservancy. Associated projects include investments in conservation agriculture, improved livestock projects, plans for land consolidation, and the establishment of a wildlife economy with the involvement of the private sector.
As one of the prioritised wildlife dispersal areas, the Kwando WDA comprises the Luengue-Luiana National Park in Angola, the Sioma-Ngwezi National Park in Zambia, Mudumu and Bwabwata National Parks in Namibia with their associated conservancies and game management areas.What makes this wildlife dispersal area so unique is that borders are unfenced and there is unrestricted wildlife movement here. Elephants from Chobe move across the conservancies and national parks in the Zambezi region of Namibia and disperse along the Kwando River into the Luengue-Luiana National Park in Angola and into Sioma Ngwezi in Zambia.
Wildlife crime remains a major challenge in this WDA. To monitor and protect the movement of wildlife within the Kwando WDA it is critical for the government agencies in Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia to work together, liaise and coordinate with each other on specific issues. The poaching crisis is further compounded by the fact that rangers and law enforcement have to contend with a serious lack of resources such as vehicles, boats, rations, fuel, patrol and general camping equipment, as well as limited communication networks and a lack of cross border cooperation between law enforcement agencies. To effectively stop the scourge of poaching, cooperation on both field and park level would need to dramatically increase. We are exploring various avenues through which to facilitate such by various stakeholders that together can contribute to the containment of wildlife crime, allowing the wildlife dispersal area to operate to its full potential.
In this WDA our work centres around supporting the Zambian Government to manage the Sioma-Ngwezi National Park and develop the Silowana Complex.
Sioma Ngwezi / Silowana Complex
Within the Zambia component of the KAZA TFCA lies the Sioma Ngwezi National Park and the Zambezi West Game Management Area, together referred to as the Silowana Complex, an area that was declared by the Litunga – the Lozi King – as a protected area more than a century ago. It is a vast ecosystem which lies within the Kwando WDA and covers an area of approximately 11 500 km2.
A core focus of this transfrontier conservation area is to improve the socio-economic conditions of the approximately two million people residing within KAZA by routing development, tourism and conservation projects to them in line with the TFCA objectives.
Kavango Zambezi promises to be southern Africa’s premier tourist destination with the largest contiguous population of the African elephant (approximately 250 000) on the continent. Conservation and tourism will be the vehicle for socio-economic development in the region.
The KAZA TFCA abounds with magnificent tourist sites and attractions, ranging from Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe and Zambia’s Victoria Falls, to the unexplored splendours of the Angolan woodlands and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip.
Harmonisation of policies and cross-border regulations, as well as the development of infrastructure between these destinations, will allow tourists from the regional and international market to explore southern Africa’s cultural and natural diversity as never before.
The establishment and development of this TFCA will offer opportunities for the local populations to form meaningful partnerships with the private and government sectors, leading to conservation becoming a more locally viable land-use option. Through these partnerships, the region will cater for budget and luxury tourists, identify and develop diverse tourist activities such as cultural and heritage tourism, and seek out new and exciting tourist destinations such as the Ngonye Falls in Zambia.