Southern Times Africa

Sinikiwe Marodza

Harare – European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, has urged African nations to adopt the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area’s (KAZA TFCA) policies and strategies on how to sustainably manage the ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources so as to successfully enhance wildlife conservation efficiency.

KAZA TFCA is situated in the Kavango and Zambezi river basins where the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. It spans an area of approximately 520 000 km² and includes 36 proclaimed protected areas such as national parks, game reserves, forest reserves, community conservancies and game/wildlife management areas.

Countries which makes up the KAZA TFCA have in the past years been working hard to make sure the SADC region’s biggest population of flora and fauna is protected and well preserved, hence coming up with a number of models, policies, strategies and practices that have successfully safeguarded the region’s wildlife. Olkkonen said Africa needed to focus on regional conservation strategies just like what the region had done through the KAZA TFCA.

Delivering a speech at the launch of the African wildlife foundation in Harare last week, Olkkonen emphasised the need for African nations to work together when it comes to tackling biodiversity degradation, especially wildlife conservation.

“EU is putting a lot of effort in tackling biodiversity degradation, especially wildlife conservation. At the global level, the European Commission launched in November 2015 a study ‘Larger than Elephants: Inputs for an EU strategic approach to wildlife conservation in Africa’, which promotes coherence and coordination of EU actions in the area of biodiversity and ecosystems.

“The ‘larger than elephants approach’ addresses the illegal trade in wildlife and reviews strategies for stopping the killing, the trafficking and the demand for wildlife products,” he said.

“The dominant theme is that in order to exploit economies of scale, hence enhance wildlife conservation efficiency, Africa needs to focus on regional conservation strategies.

“What are the most effective policies in this regard? I would say transfrontier conservation areas, a well-developed model embraced by SADC, through signed protocols on forestry, fisheries and wildlife conservation and law enforcement among bordering countries, which promotes transboundary collaboration in the management of the shared biodiversity, including ecosystems, river basins and watersheds,” he said.

The EU ambassador also highlighted that African nations should also work hand in hand with communities that are surrounded by wildlife as they play a critical role in the sustainable management of natural resources.

“Elements of transfrontier conservation areas establishment and operations extend from the highest level down to the grassroots at community level, the keystone for the success of any conservation programme.

“Communities are in fact the core beneficiaries of these projects as we believe they play a critical role in the sustainable management of natural resources. From our own experience on the ground, supported by a number of studies and research, we can realistically state that communities are our first line of defence against poaching, human wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trafficking and land degradation,” he said.