Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park straddles the borders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe and joins some of the most established wildlife areas in southern Africa into a huge conservation area of 37 572km² (± the size of the Netherlands). This forms the core of the second-phase transfrontier conservation area (TFCA), measuring almost 100 000km² - the world's greatest animal kingdom.
The larger transfrontier conservation area will include Banhine and Zinave national parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe bordering on the transfrontier park.
The heads of state of the three partner countries signed a treaty establishing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area on 9 December 2002. In 2006 the Giriyondo tourist access facility between the Limpopo and Kruger national parks was opened.
Almost 5 000 heads of game have been translocated from Kruger to Limpopo National Park. This, combined with 50 km of fencing being dropped, has encouraged more animals, including over 1 000 elephant and over 1 000 buffalo, to cross the border of their own accord.
In a major step to market Great Limpopo, its website, Facebook page and Twitter account were launched in 2014.
In April 2014, Mozambique and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on biodiversity conservation and management. One of the objectives of the MoU is to address rhino poaching in Great Limpopo.
The MoU’s implementation plan was signed by both countries in 2015.
While the two parks had previously successfully collaborated on a number of interventions, a joint management committee for Limpopo and Kruger national parks met for the first time on 9 April 2015. The committee meets quarterly to implement actions under the MoU plan. The committee focuses on matters such as protection, conservation management, tourism development, community benefits, communication and fundraising. A joint wildlife-crime strategy was developed to guide collaboration, and bilateral wildlife-crime meetings between the two park managers and field rangers are held regularly. Joint operations have delivered successes, often leading to arrests and the recovery of firearms and related poaching equipment.
On 30 June 2016, Frankfurt Zoological Society and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority signed an agreement to form the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust. The innovative approach to jointly manage Gonarezhou National Park aims to achieve financial sustainability and to enhance partnerships with the local communities, while protecting Zimbabwe’s natural heritage.
Sharing the benefits of Great Limpopo with those living in the surrounding area was an objective from the outset. In 2015, the Great Limpopo joint management board commissioned the development of an integrated livelihoods diversification strategy, which was finalised in August 2016. The strategy is the culmination of an extensive process of engagement with a wide range of stakeholders in the three partner countries, supported by USAID’s Resilience in the Limpopo River Basin (RESILIM) programme and Peace Parks Foundation. The objective is to help establish and maintain a sustainable sub-regional economic base and to develop trans-border ecotourism as a means of fostering regional socio-economic development. The successful implementation of the strategy will improve the resilience of the people and the ecosystems in the region.
Late in August, 20 students and three school principals from communities living in and adjacent to Limpopo National Park in Mozambique visited Kruger National Park to engage in a pioneering week-long life-skills and conservation education programme at the Skukuza Science Leadership Initiative. This pilot programme was presented under the auspices of Great Limpopo, in collaboration with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Peace Parks Foundation and SANParks.
The curriculum used sport and hands-on learning activities to engage the youth, develop capabilities, and empower these youngsters to work towards improving their overall quality of life. A core focus of the programme was to instil in the young people a steadfast philosophy of Hlawula Vutomi, meaning to choose life for themselves and their communities, as well as for nature’s plants and animals. The youth were also offered a life-changing first-hand encounter with young rhino that had been orphaned through poaching. As part of their life-skills development, the young people were equipped with cameras and cell phones and taught how to capture their treasured moments on film, and share them with the world through social media. Activities culminated in a cross-border soccer match at the Skukuza soccer stadium between the youth from Mozambique and a team from a nearby South African school. The hope is that these young people will return to their communities as respected youth leaders and conservation ambassadors, armed with skills and tools that will enable them to share their newly found knowledge and insights with their families and peers. The conservation education programme will be expanded in 2017.
In an exciting move towards developing Great Limpopo, wildlife was reintroduced to Zinave National Park. Developing Zinave is part of creating an interconnectivity between the three Mozambican components, i.e. Limpopo, Banhine and Zinave national parks. With wildlife dispersal areas between these parks, the communities are set to benefit through increased tourism development and employment. In all, 317 animals were brought in this year, including elephant, warthog, reedbuck and waterbuck, with Peace Parks Foundation funding and managing the translocation. The elephant came from Maremani Nature Reserve in South Africa, while Mozambique donated wildlife from Gorongosa National Park. The translocation of up to 6 000 animals in total is planned from 2017 to 2020 and will include more giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, kudu, eland, buffalo and elephant.
On Wednesday, 22 February 2017, Mozambique's National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Licoturismo signed a memorandum of understanding to formally establish the Greater Libombos Conservancy (GLC) - the first privately owned area to be included as part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). This groundbreaking process in Mozambique to create the GLC was supported by Peace Parks Foundation. Including the 240 000 ha GLC into Great Limpopo will be formalised on Friday, 24 February. Mozambique is the first country to add areas to Great Limpopo in terms of the Great Limpopo Treaty signed in 2002.
Read more about the efforts to combat wildlife crime in Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.
Mozambique proclaimed Limpopo National Park on 27 November 2001 and requested Peace Parks Foundation's assistance in overseeing its development as a SADC-approved project.
The development of Zinave National Park as an integral component of Great Limpopo TFCA got under way in January 2016.