Celebrating 20 years of transfrontier conservation In Southern Africa
12 May 2020
The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Makhotso Sotyu has lauded the marking of twenty years of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as an epoch-making milestone for conservation and eco-tourism in the region.
Southern Africa’s first Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), will start a 20-day virtual celebration through social media (#kgalagadi2020) on 12 May 2020 to mark 20 years since its formal launch.
“TFCA’s were founded with the aim of collaboratively managing shared natural and cultural resources across international boundaries for improved biodiversity conservation, socio-economic development, regional cooperation and integration for shared natural and cultural resources,” said Deputy Minister Sotyu.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) comprises two areas, which border each other across international boundaries with the primary aim of conserving wildlife. The TFCA comprises the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (established in 1931) in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park (proclaimed in 1938) in Botswana
In terms of the historical bilateral agreement signed by Botswana and South Africa, both countries undertook to manage their neighbouring national parks as a single ecological unit. On 12 May 2000, former President Festus Mogae of Botswana and former South African President Thabo Mbeki formally launched Southern Africa’s first peace park, the 35 551km2 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
This is the only Transfrontier Park that is open in the true sense of the word for tourism movement. Similar to the wildlife found in the desert landscape, tourists can move freely across the international border within the boundaries of the park as there are no physical barriers.
Through the establishment of the Transfrontier Park, Botswana and South Africa are able to guarantee the long-term conservation of valuable wildlife resources in this large semi-arid sandy savannah, thus maintaining the integrity of the Kalahari Desert ecosystem which covers much of Botswana, parts of Namibia and regions of South Africa. The two countries pool expertise and experience in managing the area. Transfrontier conservation areas also raise the international profile of area as a tourist destination, contributing to the well-being of communities living adjacent to the park.
The #kgalagadi2020 virtual celebration brings together conservation and tourism partners in Botswana, South Africa, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as part of this collaborative, cost-effective and carbon-neutral campaign. The celebration will be centred around three themes: Nature and Landscapes; Heritage and Community; and Adventure and Experiences;.
"Partners will post on their social media platforms, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to reach as many people as possible. The public is also encouraged to share their experiences and could win prizes including travel guides, locally produced craft and holiday experiences based on the three themes,” said Deputy Minister Sotyu.
The national TFCA focal points of Botswana and South Africa will be supported by the Boundless Southern Africa unit to coordinate a task team of partners of the #kgalagadi2020 campaign. The SADC TFCA Network, International Cooperating Partners, tourism operators, former and future visitors to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the general public are invited to support this virtual celebration.
Support is being provided to the campaign by South African Tourism, the Northern Cape Tourism Authority and the National Department of Tourism. The #traveltomorrow campaign of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) will also be used, as this campaign is an embodiment of the call to: ‘foster collaboration between nations and between the public and private sectors. We are working to ensure that the sense of cooperation and human spirit that has characterised the response to the challenge of COVID-19 will be carried forward into the recovery phase.’
The establishment of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA’s) as a means of jointly managing natural resources across political boundaries is one of the greatest conservation success stories within SADC. Since the establishment of Africa’s first TFCA, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), Heads of State in the region have signed a number of treaties, protocols and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to further expand the network of TFCAs. The most recent is the Iona-Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Park between Angola and Namibia. The SADC region has 18 TFCAs in both terrestrial and marine environments; all in various stages of development.
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