Kavango-Zambezi countries meet to map Cites meeting strategy

Kavang-Zambezi Trans Frontier Conservation Area

Leonard Ncube

KAVANGO-ZAMBEZI Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) countries are meeting in Victoria Falls to decide on a common position ahead of the 2019 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting.

Conference of the Parties (CoP18) will be held next month in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which make up the KAZA-TFCA, want to go to the conference with a common position regarding sticky issues like the current ban on the sale of ivory as well as borderless movement of wildlife around member states.

The Joint Management Committee and Committee of Senior Officials meeting opened on Monday with technocrats deliberating on the issues to be presented to Permanent Secretaries from each of the countries’ Environment ministries and their respective ministers.

Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira will lead her counterparts from the KAZA bloc at today’s official opening ceremony.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the meeting is crucial both for Zimbabwe and the region.

“This is a Joint Management Committee meeting where discussions are about conservation and tourism. This meeting is important for us as a country and the region at large. We have been doing joint patrols but the meeting seeks to make sure there is an improvement as we move towards CITES and the region is saying we must be allowed to utilise our resources in our own sustainable way,” said Mr Farawo.

He said the KAZA region is concerned about water challenges in game parks due to drought.

Mr Farawo said as a result, wild animals are now encroaching into human settlements escalating human-wildlife conflict.

He said the meeting seeks to open borders for animals to migrate freely.

“We are saying the Uni-Visa should also apply to movement of wild animals by opening up animal corridors and ensuring that animals move from one country to another for sustainable tourism,” Mr Farawo said.

The KAZA-TFCA launched the KAZA Uni-Visa to allow free movement of people between Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2014.

Mr Farawo said the KAZA region is alive to the concerns of communities bordering national parks. He said human-wildlife conflict can be minimised through conservation and social responsibility programmes.

KAZA is one of the 18 TFCAs in Sadc and the biggest in the world covering close to 700 000 square kilometres stretching along the Kavango and Zambezi river basins where the five countries converge.

It is home to half of Africa’s elephants, as well as African wild dogs, hippos, rhinos, lions, African buffalo, zebras, crocodiles and cheetahs which are all endangered.

The idea is to protect wildlife, promote tourism and improve the well-being of local communities.