Integration of Ecological and Socioeconomic Factors in Securing Wildlife Dispersal Corridors in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, Southern Africa

Jun 25, 2019 | Studies

By Simon M. Munthali, Nicholas Smart, Victor Siamudaala, Morris Mtsambiwa and Eleanor Harvie


Transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) are being established throughout southern Africa to integrating biodiversity conservation and rural development at the transboundary landscape scale. Among the nine TFCAs that have been established over the past 20 years, the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA) is the most grandiose in terms of size (≈ 520,000 Km2), number of partner countries involved (five), elephant (Loxodonta africana) population (≈ 199,031, which is the largest on the African continent), and encompasses 36 protected areas of various categories, interspaced by communal and private lands. The TFCA concept aims to ensure that key ecological processes continue to function where borders have divided ecosystems, and wildlife migration corridors. Attainment of this ecological objective is however being constrained by the anthropogenic threats, mostly poaching, and habitat fragmentation. These threats are being aggravated by the increasing human population, climate variability and underdeveloped rural livelihoods. To restore ecological processes, the following tactics have been recommended: (a) strengthening of transboundary law enforcement to effectively reduce poaching, and illegal offtake of timber; (b) establishment of “Stepping Stones” in the form of conservancies and fishing protected zones at wildlife crossing point on the major river systems; (c) reducing dependence on wood-fuel, and ensuring sustainable provision of affordable and reliable modern sources of energy; (d) adoption of the commodity-based trade standards in the production of beef for the export market to reduce the impact of veterinary fences on the dispersing wildlife; (e) implementation of early-season burning around all the sensitive biomes to protect them from the destructive late dry season fires; (f) adoption of conservation agriculture as a tool for improving land husbandry, intensification of agriculture, and decreasing the likelihood of cutting down forested areas to plant new agriculture fields; and (g) reducing the impact of climate variability on wildlife by providing artificial water – guided by environmental impact assessments. To enhance the socioeconomic development of the local communities and win them as allies in securing the wildlife dispersal corridors, the following actions should be adopted: (a) promotion of community-private partnerships in ecotourism development – alongside the establishment of a revolving loan fund to enable local communities’ access flexible source of capital for investment in ecotourism and auxiliary business opportunities; (b) promotion of biodiversity stewardship as an incentive for the local communities to commit their land to the sustenance of the wildlife dispersal corridors; (c) reducing human wildlife conflicts, through macro, meso and micro-level land-use planning to spatially delineate land committed to various categories, including protected areas, wildlife dispersal areas, and developed and communal areas; and (d) promotion of harmonised enabling policies and legislation to facilitate slowing down of human population growth, which is one of the prime triggers of habitat fragmentation in the KAZA TFCA.

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