"The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – home to more than 850 animal and 2 000 plant species – was one of the first formally established peace parks in southern Africa. This 35 000 km² park links the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. The Transfrontier Park also links the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Makuleke region in South Africa, which lies between the Kruger and Gonarezhou parks. The larger Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation area (TFCA), measuring almost 100 000 km², includes the Banhine and Zinave National Parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe bordering on the transfrontier park". www.peaceparks.org
An Open Letter to the Minister of Tourism The Honourable Derek Hanekom
I have noticed when you are around good things happen. In your short caretaker role as Minister of Environment, you effectively signaled the death of the canned lion industry. Congratulations! However your signing of the 10 year Transfrontier Mega Park is monumental.
In my world and other conservationists, this is bigger than South Africa being awarded the World Cub Soccer. The Transfrontier Mega Park, if successful, is sustainable whereas a World up is a once off.
The key to the Transfrontier Mega Park is the security. If each country is in charge of its own security, I doubt if Mozambique or Zimbabwe could control the poaching. However, if Mozambique and Zimbabwe were prepared to let South Africa handle the security and the President of South Africa put the full force of the South African Army behind the project, they could end rhino poaching for all time.
Running parallel with this anti poaching effort, should be a coordinated effort to invest every rural community on the periphery of the Mega Park in the tourism and the wildlife. It is essential that these rural communities taste the benefits and are uplifted by the Mega Park.
How the 3 countries share the wealth, will be a defining element in the success. If South Africa is seen as taking the lion's share of the tourist income, the park could fragment and fail. In the early stages, I feel South Africa should be benevolent and abundant.
For elephants, the Mega Park is a godsend in that they can colonize vast new areas. However history has shown that they will only go into areas where they feel safe. If poaching can be brought under control, then a laissez faire management to elephants can be pursued for many years to come.
In one of President Ramaphosa's early speeches, he said he wanted to turn South Africa into the finest tourist destination in the world. The Mega Park gives him a real shot at this!
The Transfrontier Mega Park sends out a Global Message, Africa is not a basket case, African Countries can cooperate.
I would like to congratulate the President, the Minister of Tourism, The Head of South African National Parks, the Peace Parks Foundation and the all the scientists and wildlife planners who worked so hard to achieve this extraordinary vision. It is a defining moment in the conservation movement on the African Continent.
Professor Willem van Riet and Doctor Ken Tinley, what must further be done to ensure the Transfrontier Mega Park is successful?
Tread Lightly on the Earth John Varty Environmental Activist www.johnvarty.com