“Great Limpopo TFCA must benefit communities”
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, partners in the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), must invest in communities, says minister for environment, climate, tourism and hotel business, Mangaliso Ndlovu.
He was concerned that the communities living around the parks were not fully benefiting from the Greater Limpopo TFCA, despite it being established two decades ago.
Minister Ndlovu was speaking at the 20th Greater Limpopo TFCA commemorations held in Mozambique on Friday, where he was represented by his deputy, Barbra Rwodzi.
Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa signed the Greater Limpopo Treaty TFCA on December 9, 2002 to allow the huge area to be managed as an integrated unit across all three international borders.
Minister Ndlovu said communities were still poor and human lives had been lost due to the growing wildlife population.
“As we celebrate this two-decade journey since the birth of Great Limpopo TFCA, it is also important to reflect on the challenges we face,” he said.
“Our communities have yet to benefit from TFCA initiatives, despite being 20 years ahead. Our communities still live in poverty while our wildlife populations are exploding. We are losing more human lives than ever before to human-wildlife conflict.
“The governments of the three TFCA partner states of Greater Limpopo, hear this clarion call. Our good conservation efforts have brought us this far. But what do we benefit from our efforts at the end of the day? Who will benefit from these wildlife resources that we strive to conserve? Let’s start thinking and acting so that we enjoy the fruits of our sweat.
On the successes, Minister Ndlovu applauded the great strides made towards the institutional reforms implemented within Greater Limpopo since its inception.
“It is a fact that the region where our beloved Great Limpopo TFCA is located today suffered from the process of decolonization and the liberation struggles that raged in Mozambique, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa “, did he declare.
“The TFCA area was at the heart of these conflicts and the legacy of the war remains evident today with minefields and former battlefield sites still visible, particularly between Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“These landmines have made it impossible for wildlife and tourists to move freely from country to country in the Greater Limpopo TFCA landscape. With the TFCA initiative emphasizing the free movement of tourists and wildlife across the landscape, today we can boldly say that progress has been made in the clearance exercise along our borders.
“As well as pulling down fences and clearing mines along borders, we are proud today to talk about better access to land in the landscape with the Giriyondo Access Facility opened in 2006, allowing visitors of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area cross-border access within the perimeters of the park for the first time.
Currently, a complementary facility is being sought between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and Minister Ndlovu said he hopes that before the end of the year the development will be completed.
“We are proud to highlight the institutional reforms implemented within the Greater Limpopo TFCA as one of the many strides made so far since the establishment of the Greater Limpopo TFCA,” he said.
“With the Great Limpopo TFCA initiative progressing from the implementation of the core areas, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, to the development and implementation of the wider conservation area, in accordance with the treaty, the Great Limpopo TFCA had developed a wide range of joint plans, policies and frameworks that support its effective implementation of different programs and initiatives.
Minister Ndlovu said there are plans to put in place infrastructure to reintroduce and manage the rhino population.
Recently, rhino reintroductions to the Greater Limpopo TFCA landscape have been prioritized.
In Gonarezhou National Park, rhinos were reintroduced in 2021, while a similar project was launched in Mozambique.