Ever heard of KAZA?
Let me enlighten you to the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area; the world’s largest cross border conservation area, almost twice the size of the UK.
This bold collaboration integrates parcels of land from five of the most wildlife-rich countries in southern Africa into one transfrontier park; Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola. These five African countries agreed on a single Integrated Development Plan to manage eco-systems, wildlife migration routes, cultural heritage and socio-economic wellbeing.
This is ground-breaking – world changing….it’s the finest model of how neighbouring countries can work together for the greater good.
WHAT’S GOING ON INSIDE KAZA?
While you are on safari in the KAZA region (visiting for example Victoria Falls and the Okavango Delta), there are numerous projects going on, the knowledge of which would enrich your safari experience.
For example; lion-proof cattle kraals (enclosures) for villages living with the threat of lions attacking their livestock at night – not an everyday problem for you I suspect!
Another innovative scheme in northern of Botswana by Ecoexist, is to fence off parcels of land cultivated with maize, millet, sorghum and legumes against marauding elephants. 15,000 elephants compete with 15,000 people for water, food and land in this area, so farmers cluster their 40 x 40 square metre allotments into a 4 square mile plot. It’s electrically fenced and sited well away from the 106 known elephant pathways criss-crossing the region.
Such initiatives address some of KAZA’s core objectives, in this case to foster coexistence between wildlife and people. Another is to encourage meaningful eco-tourism and I was impressed by the recycling Sijwa Project in the Zambezi Region of Namibia started by African Monarch Lodges (Nambwa and Kazile Tented Camps on the banks of the Kwando River). These are owner run by Tinolla and Rusty (who’ve been in the safari lodge business around here for years). A very environmentally aware Chief Mayuni (photo below) – who lords over vast tracts of land and villages along what used to be called the Caprivi Strip – granted the use of his tribal land for recycling projects where glass, cans and plastics are turned into beautiful saleable crafts.
Plans also include a permaculture nursery, but once again the hungry elephant problem has to be tackled. And you won’t believe the solution – bees! It’s been proven that elephants hate the buzzing of bees and when they bump the wires attached to hanging beehives, the bees come out to investigate and the elephants buzz off! It’s a win, win for sustainable vegetable growing, pollination and honey production.
Chilli-bombs are also used as a deterrent around the perimeter; take a large dollop of elephant dung, infuse it with crushed chillis, set it alight and it will smoke for hours – the elephants hate it!
Now you know a little bit about the challenges of living amongst Africa’s wild animals.
Knowing some of the amazing initiatives going within KAZA, I hope you feel enriched and rewarded through deeper understanding. Next time you visit Victoria Falls, the Zambezi Region of Namibia, Botswana’s Okavango Delta or Kafue and Hwange National Parks in Zimbabwe, you’ll remember that you are in the middle of KAZA and that there is much more going on than meets the eye.
Executive Director of KAZA Dr Nyambe Nyambe, whom I hold in great esteem, says “KAZA is not complicated, it’s complex.” It’s so complex that I have just scratched the surface of all the good stuff going on within KAZA.
For now, I’ll leave you with the words of Nils Meyer, Principal Project Manager of Governance, Rural Development and Natural Resources in Southern Africa for KfW Banking Group (the major international funder of KAZA).
“KAZA is the only real grand-scale, long-term undertaking that can realistically sustain the wildlife of the region.”
Have you been on safari within KAZA – where?