Alan Murphy
Australia AU

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

Category: Alan Murphy's Column

This week Alan explores the Transfrontier Parks of the region. These parks herald a new era in cooperation between countries in Southern Africa. And new opportunity for wildlife as traditional migration routes reopen.

If a person lives in, say, South Africa they are South African – yes? But an elephant in South Africa is not South African. It may move between Mozambique and Zimbabwe for example...at least traditionally that is. Until colonial borders were erected, which still define today’s make-up of countries in Africa.

Born Free
Often a border between two countries will have a national park or wilderness area on either side – separated by a fence and sometimes a corridor of land. But now? Throughout Southern Africa, these fences are being torn down. The result is that the animals suddenly have a massive new range to roam and can often return to traditional migration routes.

Transfrontier parks are also called ‘Peace Parks’. The vision? ‘Peace Parks Foundation envisages the establishment of a network of protected areas that links ecosystems across international borders.’ And this regional cooperation is symbolic of a peaceful region.

The Parks...One by One
What a great idea! And here they are:

  • /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld (South Africa and Namibia; including the FishRiverCanyon)
  • Kgalagadi (South Africa and Botswana; Africa’s first peace park)
  • Greater Mapungubwe (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana; includes culturally significant Iron age site)
  • Maloti-Drakensberg (South Africa and Lesotho; includes the mighty Drakensberg Mountains)
  • Great Limpopo (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe; a massive area that includes Kruger)
  • Lubombo (South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland; globally significant for its biodiversity)
  • Malawi / Zambia (in summer wild flowers and orchids covering the Malawian highlands makes this a very unusual area in Africa)
  • Kavango Zambezi (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe; the world's largest transfrontier conservation area, similar in size to France.
  • Lower Zambezi - Mana Pools (Zambia and Zimbabwe; includes the World Heritage Mana Pools)
  • Liuwa Plains – Mussuma (Angola and Zambia; protects an area famed for its huge wildebeest migration)

What Else Are They For?
The parks have a range of purposes and some are better funded than others. Promoting regional peace and cooperation, sharing resources, preserving the area’s fragile ecosystem etc are a few. Combating poaching is another. In Great Limpopo, rhino and elephant are hunted mercilessly.

And the safari opportunities have increased dramatically. For example you now cross from South Africa to Mozambique through Kruger National Park (and into Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park). This is creating all sorts of exciting safari options.  So, think like an elephant...and roam free, past and through traditional country borders.

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