Saturday, March 24, 2012
Kaza encompasses over 20 existing conservation areas and national parks including Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe and by some measures the world’s largest waterfall, and the Okavango delta in Botswana. Linking the areas up in this way is meant to allow vegetation to thrive and animals to return to their natural migration routes along protected corridors. Among the park's denizens will be 325,000 elephants, almost half the total number in Africa.
The hope is that a co-ordinated approach will be more effective at tackling poaching and other wildlife-related crimes since the five countries can now share patrols and information. Pooled resources should also go further to protect the landscape and attract investors and tourism to the region. Development and the welfare of the 1.5m people living in the park are priorities, too. The parks are to draw on the expertise of the World Wildlife Fund, an advocacy group, in techniques which allow local communities to benefit financially from conservation efforts on their land.
This park is just one (albeit the grandest) of a number of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) inside the South African Development Community, a club of 14 countries from the region. As well as addressing environmental problems, which seldom respect national borders, TFCAs have been dubbed “peace parks” by some, because of their beneficial effect on regional diplomacy. The opening of Kaza, then, is an encouraging landmark all round.
The Economist Mar 23rd 2012, 15:17 by A.W.