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View this interactive map at http://www.kavangozambezi.org
FIVE Southern African countries have signed a treaty to create the largest conservation area in the world, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
The KAZA TFCA stretches over 444 000 km sq and includes areas of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, linking 14 national parks and nature reserves, including the Victoria Falls and the Okavango River Delta.
According to the signed treaty, one of the objectives of the TFCA is to ‘promote cross-border tourism as a means of fostering regional socio-economic development’.
The KAZA TFCA project will mean a huge boost for tourism to the region, according to Map Ives, Wilderness Safaris guide in Botswana. He says over the coming years, KAZA TFCA has the potential to increase tourism to the region by a factor of five, with Angola standing to benefit a great deal over the next 25 years. “The governments have agreed to sign the treaty, but now the real work begins.”
Ives stresses it is crucial for the governments to put the necessary conditions in place to create a favourable atmosphere for investors to set up tourism businesses.
The KAZA TFCA has received financial and logistical support from the German and Dutch governments, South Africa’s Peace Parks Foundation, the Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature.
German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel, was present at the launch of the KAZA TFCA secretariat. He was quoted in local newspapers as saying: “The KAZA initiative is a splendid example of opportunities and potential in Africa. The intention is that, in future, tourists will be able to travel through the nature park from Botswana to Namibia, Angola and Zambia and all the way to Zimbabwe with just a single visa.”
Emmanuel Fundira, President of the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism, confirms the development will help speed issues such as the Univisa, which he now calls a ‘fait accompli’. “Associated with this is the need to standardise product and service offerings which will bring consistency and improved service levels.”
Fundira explains the treaty will improve the area in a number of ways as it will mobilise resources towards conservation efforts and increase collaboration from regional partners in mounting effective anti poaching initiatives. He says: “It will further also boost the implementation of overdue regional co-operation initiatives as contained in various SADC protocols.”
Steve Felton, WWF Namibia, explains the TFCA will allow for better control over wildlife, which will in turn give tourists more certainty of seeing wildlife when on a trip. He says: “At present, species are hemmed into small areas like national parks and can’t migrate due to human population pressure as well as national boundaries, all of which include fencing. By linking areas within KAZA, animals will be able to migrate.” Felton says fences will be removed; wildlife management will be unified in all five countries and de-mining will take place in southern Angola, all allowing more movement of wildlife.
Felton adds a lot of work still needs to be done. He says: “Government should provide better infrastructure – roads, possibly an international airport at Kasane. Border facilities should be improved and harmonized, even if there is no common visa. All of this will encourage the private sector, and make the area more attractive for tourists.”
The KAZA TFCA secretariat said in a statement it aims to become an international organisation with a legal persona, capable of entering into contracts, and acquiring and disposing of property. Institutions established through the treaty to govern the TFCA, particularly its secretariat, will be empowered to ensure that the objectives of the treaty are realised and corresponding strategic plans and protocols implemented.
The KAZA concept dates back to July 2003, when the five partners agreed to the project at a meeting in Katima Mulilo.