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After the fences came down

After the fences came down

After the fences came down
Antony Alexander


The Limpopo National Park was established in 2001 to become the Mozambican component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Thought of by many as the eastern extension to Kruger National Park, the LNP was to provide the ‘missing link’ between the Kruger conservation-tourism model and the attempts at sustainable use and conservation with the Zimbabwean CAMPFIRE programme: and so the fences came down!

Several members of the AHEAD-GLTFCA working group, through their research and projects, have written most of the history of the Park since then.

The Wildlife Conservation Society sponsored the first assessment of veterinary issues in Limpopo National Park in 2007. ‘Amalinda’, the fictional woman from the LNP who battles with daily needs yet sees the bigger conservation picture, and her story were created by the original team to explain why the Park was lagging behind and so were its people.

Yes, small steps were put in place, but those researchers who were working with rural villages in and outside the Park already knew that the assumed human-wildlife conflict was becoming deeper than just elephant trampling on fields, or predators killing livestock.

The veterinary assessment continued in 2010: then in 2013 explored new and emerging issues which are changing the socio-economic composition of rural areas, much to the detriment of valuable charismatic species: rhino and elephant.

The discussions and cooperation with the Mozambique National Agency for Conservation Areas, represented at the conference by Dr. Oraca Cuambe, with the Park represented by Tomas Meqe Chauque and the National Directorate for Veterinary Services represented by Dr. Agostinho de Nazare Manguize, are ongoing in between these assessments to identify sustainable solutions for the Park and for its people.

AHEAD-GLTFCA also cooperates with (1) the Resilience in the Limpopo River Basin (RESILIM) Programme, funded by USAID through Chemonics, which is promoting resilient ecological and social systems in an area which is already highly stressed by industrial and domestic uses; and (2) the IUCN Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme in southern Africa.

The outcome of these protracted interactions before and during the conference, and of working relationships that have been established through time, is yet to make itself heard for the Limpopo National Park, its wildlife and its people, but this is also why AHEAD-GLTFCA continues working with multiple institutions and governance systems. At the end of the next decade, when we hear the acronym HWC, we will think Human-Wildlife ‘Cooperation’, no longer ‘Conflict’.

Fact file: Agencia Nacional das Áreas de Conservação (ANAC):

The government of Mozambique, in its endeavour to harmonise with regional countries in several matters concerning conservation, has established a national agency, still under the Ministry of Tourism, for the coordination of all national Conservation Areas. This move was supported in the second phase of the World Bank financial support to the government for conservation and comes alongside the establishment of MozBio, a fund to support biodiversity-related intervention in the country. Most of the structure of ANAC has been maintained from the previous National Directorate (DNAC), while the new agency is headed by Dr Abdala Mussa.

Fact file: Resilience in the Limpopo River Basin (RESILIM)

This is a five year USAID-funded programme that seeks to improve trans-boundary water resource management of the Limpopo River, and improve the resilience of communities and ecosystems amidst the impact of climate change.

Transfrontier conservation areas face a range of challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, competition for water, contested rights to land and wildlife, and others. RESILIM is exploring various solutions to these issues such as improved institutional linkages across countries, departments and private sector and community stakeholders; to build TFCA stakeholder trust through scenario planning; to diversify livelihoods based on more resilient ecosystems; to include climate change resilience building into protected areas management plans; and others.

Through this, RESILIM will enhance the ecological integrity and resilience to climate change in the Greater Mapungubwe and Limpopo TFCAs while strengthening rural livelihoods through pilot projects with community partners.

Fact file: The AHEAD programme

By assembling a ‘dream team’ of veterinarians, ecologists, biologists, social and economic scientists, agriculturists, wildlife managers, public health specialists and others from across east and southern Africa at the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress (held in Durban, South Africa), the Wildlife Conservation Society, IUCN, and a range of partners tapped into some of the most innovative conservation and development thinking on the African continent- and AHEAD (Animal & Human Health for the Environment And Development) was born.

Since then, a range of programmes addressing conservation, health, and concomitant development challenges have been launched, including the Beyond Fences programme in the Kavango Zambezi TFCA, working to create an enabling environment to resolve the conflicts that arise between the creation of large TFCAs and current approaches to the control of transboundary animal diseases within and between countries.

Fact file: BIOPAMA workshop:

The Biodiversity and Protected Area Management project (BIOPAMA) aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, while reducing poverty in communities in and around protected areas. Specifically, this four-year initiative (2012-2016), funded by resources from the intra-ACP envelope of the 10th European Development Fund, will enhance existing institutions and networks by making the best available information available for building capacity to improve policies and decision-making on biodiversity conservation and protected areas management. The BIOPAMA project hosted a workshop in Hwange aimed at protected area managers at the conference to better understand the flow of information for decision- making related to protected areas and surrounds. Information was collected from each of the countries present (Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe) on the information flow from the protected area level to the agency and national government decision-making and reporting levels, as well as the horizontal information flow between managers, agencies and countries in relation to the TFCAs. Discussions also focused on mainstreaming efforts in each of the countries and what information may be needed by protected area agencies to engage more effectively with other sectors potentially impacting on those areas. This information will feed into the further development of the BIOPAMA project and assist in prioritising the work of the Regional Observatories for Protected Areas.

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

More on transfrontier parks from this issue of the Zambezi Traveller:
Towards one health
After the fences came down
Between man and nature
Solutions for conflict with lions
Pomp and ceremony at KAZA event
Tourism, beef or both?
Simalaha gains momentum
Looking to the future