Conservation across borders

When neighbours take hands, good things can happen, as has been proved over and again when staff and management of the Kruger and Limpopo national parks work together.

This collaborative relationship was recently cemented when the first Joint Park Management Committee (JPMC) was established, and met in April for the first time. Their aim is to increase collaboration between the management of the LNP in Mozambique, and neighbouring Kruger National Park (KNP), already joined as integral parts of the part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).

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Particular issues that the JPMC will focus on include protection, conservation management, tourism development, community beneficiation, communication and fund raising.

Yet, this is not the first time that management of these parks has taken hands. They have previously collaborated on a number of strategic anti-poaching interventions with great success. These have included improved cross-border collaboration and joint operations, joint training initiatives and the development of a joint communications system.

Several recent arrests as a result of these collaborations are signs that a strengthened partnership between the two parks is bearing fruit. During a joint operation in which approximately 12 roadblocks were manned within LNP and the areas around Massingir town, a .458 rifle with five rounds of ammunition was seized along with a 12-guage shotgun. Two poaching suspects were arrested and two vehicles impounded. Operation Lebombo is also continuing. This involves collaboration between the two parks in anti-poaching activities, in particular in the area along the border. The on-going initiative will involve regular meetings between the protection forces of both countries as well as combined operations and information sharing.

The parks are also reaping the benefits of the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) administered Rhino Protection Programme. Funded by the Dutch and Swedish postcode lotteries and numerous private donors, the project focuses on interventions and projects that will strengthen the fight against rhino poaching. A key component is the implementation of measures as stipulated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the governments of South Africa and Mozambique, called the Cooperation Agreement for Biodiversity Conservation and Management.

A number of initiatives that was stipulated in the MOU are in the process of being implemented. An enhanced protection zone has been created to further strengthen the protection of wildlife between the two parks. Referred to as the Intensive protection Zone or, Zona de Vigilância Especial, it is located along the LNP’s western boundary with KNP and will largely entail joint collaboration between the parks.

In support of the development and implementation of a joint, cross-border communications network, an information and intelligence sharing mechanism has also been established between the two parks. In addition, a joint training initiative was undertaken in 2014 in collaboration between the Southern African Wildlife College and the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation. Twelve rangers, four from each of the countries part of the GLTP (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) were trained in anti-poaching operations and readiness.