On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA), the Ministers of Environment for South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe met on 13 April 2022 to discuss various issues related to the collaborative management of this important cross-border conservation area.
The meeting was held virtually and attended by Honourable Deputy Minister, Mr. Fernando Bemane de Sousa of Mozambique, Honourable Deputy Minister, Ms Makhotso Magdeline Sotyu of South Africa and Honourable Minister, Mr. Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu of Zimbabwe.
The establishment of the GLTFCA began with the signing of the Treaty by the three Heads of State from Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe on 9 December 2002. The core cross-border conservation area comprises of the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, the Kruger National Park in South Africa and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.
To mark the signing of the treaty establishing the GLTFCA on 9 December 2002, the Ministers have agreed that it is fitting to celebrate this milestone with the continued rewilding and restoration of this globally important cross-border conservation landscape. It is through this partnership that keystone species are being reintroduced to new and existing conservation areas.
As such, the Governments of the Republic of Mozambique and South Africa have been translocating various species with the recent plans to reintroduce rhinos to Zinave National Park this year. After becoming locally extinct more than 40 years ago, a project has commenced reintroducing both the critically endangered black rhino and the near-threatened white rhino to the park.
Zinave, which is co-managed by Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and the Peace Parks Foundation, will not only host the first founder population of both rhino species in a national park in Mozambique but is also set to become the first “Big Five” national park in the country. The Ministerial Committee endorsed an event, at a date to be scheduled, to mark the release of the rhinos as fundamental in the Commemoration of the GLTFCA 20th Anniversary.
Furthermore, the Treaty makes provision for the enhancement of ecosystem integrity and management of ecological processes by harmonising environmental management procedures across international boundaries and striving to remove artificial barriers impeding the natural movement of wildlife. The Ministers from all three GLTFCA Partner States welcomed and endorsed the GLTFCA Elephant Management Framework that was prepared following a stakeholder consultation process in each of the partner countries. It has been developed to address the ecological, social and economic role of elephants within the GLTFCA.
The Ministerial meeting made several other endorsements, including the endorsement of the possible establishment of a scheduled Limpopo Tourist Crossing Facility. This work will include a thorough stakeholder consultation process together with the respective immigration authorities of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The International Coordinator for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, Mr. Gwinyai Muti mentioned that since the last Ministerial Committee Meeting held in February 2017, major developments within the GLTFCA have taken place, such as:
- The GLTFCA Joint Management Board had embarked on an institutional reform process which has facilitated revised institutional arrangements to better collaboratively manage the transfrontier conservation area. The Ministers noted with interest the significant progress which includes the development of three Joint Park Management Committees, five Advisory Thematic Technical Working Groups and the establishment of a GLTFCA Partners Forum. The Ministers also noted significant progress toward the development of a GLTFCA Secretariat and a Sustainable Finance Strategy.
- With regards to the translocation of wildlife from one GLTFCA country to another, Ministers have reaffirmed the implementation of the wildlife translocation programme for the GLTFCA wherein several conservation areas, including Zinave National Park in Mozambique, are being restocked.
- The GLTFCA is now also embarking upon aligning the ecosystem services provision of the protected area in the transboundary water resources management context for broader water security, adaptation and livelihood benefits in our shared river systems.
- Ministers also recognised the great strides made in enhancing security and wildlife protection within the GLTFCA through the development of a GLTFCA Joint Security plans and the development of a Transboundary Tourism Strategic Framework that is intended to guide and coordinate the development of sustainable transboundary tourism, and to facilitate tourism development, investment promotion and growth in the GLTFCA region.