The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park(01-02-07)

The balancing act the Zimbabwe tourism body faces cannot be envied. They need to increase numbers and on one hand we have the noble efforts of those in the industry trying to save their livelihoods and those of their employees who are doing all they can to make tourists feel welcome and on the

other we have those who, well, are not. These individuals know that the authorities are ill equipped to prevent their poaching and hunting and even the authorities themselves compound the situation with ‘meat quotas’ needed to ensure their survival as their token salaries are engulfed by inflation.
Those in the industry have realized that without their ongoing efforts the areas in which they operate will succumb to economic hardships – all the wildlife will be shot, facilities abused and any hope of maintaining the area lost. The need for them to stay open, even if only for the sake of appearances, cannot be stressed enough. Otherwise, those who view Zimbabwe’s downward swing in tourist arrivals as ample opportunity to exploit the country’s rich resources will seize the day.
It is then of interest to the international community to watch the development of the Region’s biggest national park. Roughly the size of Belgium, The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park spans 35,000 Km² and is one of the largest parks in the world. Transfrontier parks are created in an attempt to re-establish historical animal migration routes. Political borders don’t respect ecological systems hence the creation of such parks to aid in the return of larger and more resilient ecosystem of days gone by.
The force behind the creation of the current Transfrontier Park started in 1990, by the then president of The World Wildlife Federation, Anton Rupert. The park is made up of 58% South African, 24% Mozambican and 18% Zimbabwe territory. The park brings together South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo Park and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou Park. Although the link to Gonarezhou National Park is yet to be opened, hundreds of kilometres of fencing have already been removed between South Africa and Mozambique between 2003 and 2005 and as a result a migration of elephants back into Mozambique from the over populated Kruger National Park has already taken place. The South Africa’s Environmental Affairs and Tourism Department also trans-located nearly 1000 animals into the depleted Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park, suffering from the effects of years of terrible civil strife. The old migration routes have now been re-established and the elephants are back to their ancient stomping grounds.
Probably the greatest achievement of all is the bringing together of 3 countries for conservation and preservation of the wildlife, flora and fauna. This positive sign of working together can only work for the betterment of the wildlife as a whole. The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park will enable tourists to travel to all 3 countries whereas in the past the hassle of border crossings would have been restrictive.
A positive development in it’s own for Zimbabwe’s Tourism which needs a boost to sustain its conservation activities for the sake of its children.

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