The Transfrontier Conservation Treaty between Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe to establish a cross-border park in the Tuli area along the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers is set to be operational at the end of this month after resolution of disagreements over name and certain clauses.
The Botswana Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama said during the annual Nedbank Tour de Tuli Cycling Challenge on Saturday that Botswana and Zimbabwe were against South Africa’s proposal to call the park ‘Greater Mapungubwe’. “We have to have a name that represents three countries.We are definitely going with either Shashe-Limpopo or Shalimpo Transfrontier Park,” Khama told Mmegi.
The Minister stated that Botswana would not adopt Mapungubwe because it is only used in South Africa. He said both Botswana and Zimbabwe are happy with the Shashe-Limpopo proposal. The South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa has made a surprise revelation saying they do not have a problem with the Shashe-Limpopo name. In an exclusive interview with Mmegi, she disclosed that: “We don’t have a problem with the (Shashe-Limpopo) name proposal. We only had a problem with the dispute resolution clause which I believe our officials have already dealt with”.
Molewa said South Africa is waiting for the trio-minister’s meeting that is coordinated by Botswana where all the outstanding issues will be resolved for the establishment of Shashe-Limpopo Conservation Transfrontier Park. The establishment of the park has been delayed for years after the signing of the treaty due to disagreements over its name and some clauses.
Meanwhile Khama has said he has sent out invitations for the trio-minister’s meeting to be held during the General Assembly of UN World Tourism Organisation to be held in Victoria Falls from 24-29 August this year.The Shashe-Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Park will link Tuli Block with South Africa’s Mapungubwe National Park and Zimbabwe’s Tuli Safari area. Interestingly, in his State of the Nation Address last year, President Ian Khama referred to the park as ‘Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area’.
It would be Botswana’s second Transfrontier Park after the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that extends to South Africa and Namibia. It is said these parks promote regional tourism, allows free movement of animals and helps in coordinated anti-poaching and conservation activities.
When established, this transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) will embrace land that belongs to different stakeholders and become a unique conservation initiative involving partnerships between governments, private landowners and local communities.
The Shashe-Limpopo TFCA is situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers. This area is rich in plant and animal life, scenic geological features and important archaeological sites, and therefore ideal for the establishment of a TFCA.
The Shashe-Limpopo TFCA with its wealth of wildlife, beautiful scenery and unique cultural assets has the potential to become a major tourist destination in southern Africa. Existing tourist facilities are a number of privately run lodges in Botswana (which already attract about 20 000 visitors each year) and a growing number in South Africa. The recently launched Mapungubwe National Park has added 100 beds to the region in the form of a rest camp with chalets, a tented camp, wilderness trails and various game-viewing facilities like a tree-top walk, hides and access roads. In Zimbabwe, the Tuli Circle Safari Area is used extensively for hunting by permit.
Date: 6 August 2013