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On Monday, 22 June 2009 the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA), Peace Parks Foundation and the University of Pretoria signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station (Centre), within the boundaries of the Kruger National Park in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
The primary function of the Centre will be to develop a research platform with an emphasis on veterinary science in the context of TFCAs, and the interface between wildlife, livestock and humans.
A TFCA, as defined in the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement, is “the area or component of a large ecological region that straddles the boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas as well as multiple resource use areas.”
The research station was built in the 1980s on land donated by the late Mr Hans Hoheisen. In 2006 the South African government delegated the management of the Centre to the MTPA.
Peace Parks Foundation will support the upgrade as well as the operational costs of the Centre over the next five years. This support was given impetus thanks to major donations made by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, Alexander Forbes, Fondation Hoffmann and Turner Foundation.
The University of Pretoria, with its experience in managing the world renowned Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort, will develop the Centre’s business plan and also manage its daily operations.
Once operational, the Centre will provide world-class amenities and equipment to support wide-ranging research, including work that requires modern quarantine facilities. The Centre will cater for the needs of researchers from varied national and international institutions, focusing on the needs of southern Africa and with a special emphasis on veterinary matters related to TFCA development.
The Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station could play a significant role in critical veterinary research projects that could impact on disease management and control in conservation areas, including TFCAs.
The joint partnership between MTPA, Peace Parks Foundation and the University of Pretoria will go a long way in ensuring that the facility is used effectively and benefits the surrounding communities.