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Written By: admin on March 30, 2012 One Comment

On the 15th of March 2012, the Ministers responsible for environment, wildlife, natural resources, hotels and tourism of the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe hosted various stakeholders in the town of Katima Mulilo, Namibia to celebrate the official launch of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA). The KAZA TFCA’s clear vision is to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation area and tourism destination in the Okavango and Zambezi River Basin regions of the five countries, within the context of sustainable development. Spanning over 444, 000 square kilometres, it has the potential to become the world’s largest conservation area. It was a historical day in conservation as the five countries reaffirmed their commitment to regional economic integration through sustainable management of transboundary natural resources and tourism development.

KAZA launch:Angola’s Hon. Pedro Mutindi, Minister of Hotels & Tourism;  Botswana’s Hon. Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Environment, Wildlife &  Tourism; Namibia’s Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah Minister of Environment &  Tourism; Zambia’s Hon. Given Lubinda Minister of Foreign Affairs &  Tourism; and, Zimbabwe’s Hon. Francis Nhema Minister of Environment &  Natural Resources

KAZA launch:Angola’s Hon. Pedro Mutindi, Minister of Hotels & Tourism; Botswana’s Hon. Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Environment, Wildlife & Tourism; Namibia’s Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah Minister of Environment & Tourism; Zambia’s Hon. Given Lubinda Minister of Foreign Affairs & Tourism; and, Zimbabwe’s Hon. Francis Nhema Minister of Environment & Natural Resources

Elephants Without Borders is proud to have participated at the launch, however, even more so we are proud of how our research has helped this tremendous initiative come to fruition. It was over 10 years ago, I remember sitting on the banks of the Zambezi River when Dr. John Hanks showed me a map on his computer, as he explained a vision he was promoting to form this 5-country initiative. He further explained how he believed that the long-range movements and home-ranges of elephants would delineate the boundaries of this massive conservation area. He said if we could secure large tracts of habitat for elephants and promote the ideal that communities could mutually benefit living with wildlife, then we would be securing a healthy environment for all: elephants, wildlife and people. His vision helped us guide and focus our research in pursuit of its success.

What started as EWB Director and Founder, Mike Chase’s PhD study on northern Botswana’s elephant spatial ecology, soon expanded across the entire region of what would one day be known as KAZA. As the elephants expanded their ranges, so did our work. Luckily we attained permission to conduct our studies beyond Botswana into Zambia, Namibia and Angola. (http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org/tracking.php)  We fitted satellite telemetry collars on elephants throughout the range and discovered that the elephant populations were more fluid than previously thought and that many of northern Botswana elephants were actually part of a much larger contiguous population between all the KAZA countries. Many of our monitored elephants travelled beyond human borders, traversing up to 4 countries in one season! Also, we learned from monitoring elephants, what areas were important corridors between the countries in which elephants and other wildlife need to flourish.

Some of EWB's cross-border elephant monitoring

Some of EWB's cross-border elephant monitoring

To compliment the satellite-monitoring program, we wanted to attain information on seasonal distribution and abundance of the elephant populations, so aerial surveys were needed. We took these opportunities, considering to be most conservation productive with cost and time efficiency, to count all large herbivores during our surveys throughout our study area: including buffalo, zebra, giraffe, lechwe, impala, hippo, eland, wildebeest, etc. Through community areas, we also felt it pertinent to attain cattle numbers.(http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org/surveys.php) Again, with proper permission and support by the governments, we were able to fly what we knew to be the “elephant range” of northern Botswana, Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, southeast Angola and Southwest Zambia. We were lucky enough to gain enough support that we were able to fly subsequent surveys every other year to monitor trends within the population.

Collaring a bull in Zambia

Collaring a bull in Zambia

As a result of these studies, many publications, papers and reports have been produced and submitted to the governing authorities, as well as, the KAZA secretariat and key stakeholders to help guide effective management programs and policies.  Such as: “Elephants caught in the middle: impacts of war, fences and people on elephant distribution and abundance in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia”, “Elephants of Southeast Angola in War and Peace: Their Decline, Re- colonization and Current Status”, “Seasonal Abundance and Distribution of Elephants in Sioma Ngwezi National Park, southwest Zambia” (Chase & Griffin) and, “Elephants and fencing conflicts in the GLTFCA and KAZA TFCA” (Chase & Ferguson) (Many of these can be found and downloaded on EWB’s website, under the Information tab, Downloads http://www.elephantswithoutborders.org/downloads.php)

KAZA has been engaging technical expertise to guide the activities and management of KAZA through the formation of working groups and technical committees. Dr. Mike Chase, now holding a Postdoctoral position with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, is also now a participant of KAZA’s Conservation Working Group, attending KAZA joint management committee meetings. And, EWB has been invited as a key stakeholder to participate and comment to help strategize on Botswana’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for the Botswana KAZA component.

In addition to KAZA and EWB’s ongoing and expanding projects, this work seems to be only the beginning for us, and of course, as our work continues, we only discover more questions that need to be addressed. However it is on landmark occasions as the KAZA-TFCA launch that we recognize that the years of hard work, diligence, co-operation, support received and by being pro-active from the ground up, we can make a difference and move towards positive conservation success. There is still so much work to be done, in fact it is only the beginning, however we see progress.

Dr. John Hanks & Dr. Mike Chase

Dr. John Hanks & Dr. Mike Chase

There are so many people, institutions and organizations that have helped us achieve our goals through the years. One can attest the fact by reading the long acknowledgment lists on each of our papers. To everyone that has helped, we are truly grateful. However, as we sat at the launch, there was one man that came specifically to mind and thus, we would like to express our gratitude and thanks to our friend and colleague, Dr. John Hanks, for his encouragement and support to help initiate our work and his aspiring vision of the KAZA-TFCA.

EWB's aerial survey/wildlife count transects in KAZA-TFCA

EWB's aerial survey/wildlife count transects in KAZA-TFCA

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One Response to “EWB and the KAZA-TFCA”

  1. elephant highway says on: 17 May 2013 at 7:18 am

    I like it .Collaring a bull in Zambia .It is just awesome.

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