Course:CONS200/2021/Achievements and challenges for Peace Parks in Southern Africa

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About Southern Africa

Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the African continent, south of the Congo and Tanzania; countries commonly included in Southern Africa include, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Seychelles Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Map of Southern Africa

Peace Parks Foundation has been actively involved with the establishment and development of ten of the 18 TFCAs found throughout southern Africa, all of which are in various stages of development.[1]

Peace Park

Peace parks in Southern Africa, are more officially known as a transfrontier conservation area. They are non-profit organizations or government owned land/parks that aim to bring conservation and tourism to often marginalized border regions. As well as in many cases being a sign of peace between two countries, or the endurance of peace. This is achieved through shared jurisdiction of the land and cooperation. Many parks have been championed as creating a future for man in harmony with nature[2]. The concept of Peace Parks began in 1990s. Heralded in 1997 by Dr. Anton Rupert, Former South African President Nelson Mandela and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.[2] Today peace parks in southern Africa are largely supported by the Peace Parks Foundation.


Specific objectives of Peace Parks may include the following aspects:

  • Supporting long-term co-operative conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and natural and cultural values across boundaries;
Map of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation area. One of the largest tourist attractions and transfrontier conservation areas in Africa[1].
  • Promoting landscape-level ecosystem management through integrated bio- regional land-use planning and management;
  • Building trust, understanding, reconciliation and co-operation between and among countries, communities, agencies, and stakeholders;
  • Preventing and/or resolving tension, including over access to natural resources;
  • Promoting the resolution of armed conflict and/or reconciliation following armed conflict;
  • Sharing biodiversity and cultural resource management skills and experience, including co-operative research and information management;
  • Promoting more efficient and effective co-operative management programmes;
  • Promoting access to, and equitable and sustainable use of natural resources, consistent with national sovereignty; and
  • Enhancing the benefits of conservation and promoting benefit-sharing across boundaries[3].

Generally, the purpose of transboundary can be categorized into three primary purposes: biodiversity conservation, socio-economic development and promoting culture of peace and cooperation.

Existing Peace Parks and Achievements

There are many Transboundary conservation area, but the 5 most advanced peace parks in South Africa include the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Park, Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area, and the Lubombo TFCA.

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Great Limpopo(GLTP)is the transfrontier park among Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. The Presidents of the three countries signed the international treaties which officially proclaimed the formation of the GLTP, ensuring the future development in the area.

The international treaties ensures:

  • Transnational collaborations to facilitate ecosystem management.
  • Promotion of alliances in biological management.
  • Enhancement of ecosystem integrity and natural ecological process across -Boundaries, such as removal of artificial barriers that impede wildlife movement.
  • Development of trans-border ecotourism
  • Establish mechanism to facilitate technical, scientific, and legal information -exchange[4].(GLTP, n.d.)

Additionally, the area protects over 850 animal and 2000 plant species.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The road indicator in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, officially opened in 2000, was the first transfrontier peace park in Africa. The park has successful achievements in biodiversity conservation, commercial activities, and international collaboration. In terms of conservation of biodiversity, This park is a really dry area with the leading position in implementing ecosystem integrity functions. The park reserves the most abundant semi-arid biomes, which is extremely crucial because it is a storehouse for the organisms adapted to the arid environment. Also, the large size of the park is able to provide many species which balance the ecosystem and do not need extensive management intervention.[5] In terms of commercial activities, In 2002, the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities got 50000 ha of land from the park, and the communities finished the building of a fully catered luxury accommodation which started the development of tourism.[6] After that, the communities opened a new tent camp which not only brings a huge income for the communities, but also leads the development of other business in Erin Game Ranch. In terms of international collaboration, “This Peace Park was built in 1948 and is associated with the South African National parks to set up a joint management committee which means a better management of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in June, 1992. On May 12th, 2000, the presidents of Botswana and South Africa attended the opening ceremony of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as the first Transfrontier park. The opening ceremony means the upcoming transnational interdependence and cooperation in Southern Africa.

Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Park

/Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park was initiated on August 17 2001, by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The park was made official on august 1st 2003 by the presidents of Namibia and South Africa. The whole transfrontier conservation park consists of 5086 squared kilometers of which 32% lies in South Africa (Richtersveld National Park) and 68% in Namibia (IAi-IAis Hot Springs Game Park).[7] The park has been seen as successfully as the park brings tourism and jobs to the local economy. The Sendelingsdrift Tourism Access Facility opened as a gateway between the two countries in 2007 allowing for easier access between the two countries. In 2011 the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld joint management board approved the park’s integrated development plan and joint operations strategy. Allowing for projects to commence with aims to increase tourism in the area, such as, the opening of mountain bike[8] and kayak trails in the park. The management structure of the park also allow for full community participation in management through elected members. The community stakeholders are also in control of a large portion of the funding available to the parks.[7]

Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area

The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area protects 14 740 km² of the mountains on the north-eastern border between Lesotho and South Africa. The area is composed of the Tsehlanyane National Park in Lesotho, as well as the Maloti-Drakensberg Park a transboundary World Heritage Site, composed of the Sehlathebe National Park in Lesotho and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg National Park in South Africa. The are also around 2 million people that call the area home. The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development project was launched in 2003 by the Ministers of the Environment for Lesotho and South Africa, along with the World Bank. The park contains caves and rock faces containing the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in Africa south of the Sahara.[9] The caves are what got parts of the region turned into a UNESCO world Heritage Site. The cultural importance of the sites within the development area along with the biodiversity in the are support tourism sectors.[10] The protection of the regions biodiversity is therefore also many times charged with assisting to protect the these heritage sites. The mixture of cultural and biological importance's is said to promote beneficial ecocentric views.[10]

Lubombo TFCA

The Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area has a large area with10029 km square, and it crosses Mozambique, South Africa and the Kingdom of eSwatini. In addition, its TFCA is the first marine in TFCA which is called Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA. With the $6 million donation from the World Bank, the Lubombo was established in 2000 and the Peace Park was born with the development includes infrastructure and accommodation upgrades, as well as the construction of headquarters and facilities to accomotae the incease of people. In 2009, Mozambique set up the Ponta do Ouro partial Marine Reserve in order to start the 20 years turtle monitoring program which is related with the iSimangaliso Wetland Park program in 2009.The following year, the program started transferring wildlife from South Africa to Mozambique parks to rebuild key conservation areas.[11] 2011 is an important year to the Lubombo as the Peace Park declared the Futi Corridor as a protected area, and it connects the Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique with the Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa. Also, the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve headquarters were officially opened in 2011. In recent years, Lubombo has collaborated with Joaquim Chissano Foundation which better carry out the development of projects to improve livelihoods of communities living near the Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Partial Ouro Marine Reserve. Finally, the peace park is in partnership with ANAC with an agreement which is to develop Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Partial Marine Reserve together[12].


Property Rights

First one people have had to face is the problem of property rights and how the Peace Parks Foundation negotiates with landowners. Another is the changing of land use. State, communal and private lands are involved in peace parks but with variation in the ways in which they impact on the establishment of these transboundary parks[13]. Thus, the determining factor of establishing a peace park is negotiating with landowner successfully, it is also one of the challenges currently faced by weighing the interests of multiple parties and replanning the peace park. “Most of the local landowners are using their land to do the business of graze, plant, harvest or hunt, and they think that they will lose their continuous income if they sell their land to be a peace park. Therefore, the government may need to spend much money on buying their land and ensure their animal husbandry won’t be affected by the development of peace park".[13] Otherwise, the landowners find it hard to respond to the government’s requests.

Hotbed for "War"

White Rhino in Peace Park

There are also claims that peace parks are idealistic and do not deal with some of the region's “Violent history”[14]. The establishment of the Peace Park gradually became a hotbed of war and poaching. In 2013 and 2014, rhino poaching erupted in Kruger National Park with a massive poaching crisis in southern Africa, over 1,000 rhinos were killed, has declined by a staggering 59% since 2013[15]. It having a significant impact on protection and other political dynamics in the region - which also can be called “Green Violence”. In Peace Park, green violence is used in order to "suppress" poachers. Some have claimed that retired South African Defence Force major-general Johan Jooste has militarized Kruger National Park. These wars have also extended to the ecological environment of the peace park, as well as kill many rhino. The animals trying to be protected by the parks in the first palace. In practice, some peace parks have been sliding into war-like practices.[14] 166 rhinos were poached in South Africa during the first six months of 2020, bringing the total number of rhinos poached in the country to 8,454 since 2010[15]. Of course, when such a huge number of rhinos are killed, this has significant knock-on effects. Between 2014 and 2017, the total number of rhinos born in Kruger fell by almost 60%[15]. Those figures are stark reminding us that rhinos are becoming more and more vulnerable, and whether the establishment of the peace park really protects biodiversity.

Sustainable economic development

Due to the economic disparities in the region, there is no reassurance that either side of the border will hold their end. The generation of economic development in the parks appears less straightforward than originally presented. First, take the example of Great Limpopo, even Great Limpopo attracts millions in funding, but it does not have sustainable economic development. The investment in Great Limpopo is more of a one-time government investment and a one-time investment by donors. Those investment can provide a sustainable development for Great Limpopo. Second, estimates that the Great Limpopo would bring in millions of dollars in tourism revenue proved to be overly optimistic.[2] Through the previously mentioned goals of the Peace Park, we can learn that the establishment of the Peace Park is directly linked to the promotion of economic development. However, the current benefits of the Peace Park are far from reaching the set goals. Third, it is important to note that the tourism industry is highly sensitive to political unrest[16]. Failure to secure stable financial support will not ensure the sustainability of Peace Park. The breakdown of the promising vision of sustainable economic development has also affected the development prospects of Peace Parks.


Overall, although the government needs to solve many challenges (property rights, finding lands to build the park and the existence of poachers) in order to build the Peace Park, the project protected local people’s properties and rights and also provided a platform to fairly communicate with other countries. Also, the projects are able to manage their natural resources efficiently, and reduce poverty of local people through conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It has allowed for furthering conservationist causes as well as many other humanitarian efforts. While not without flaws in South Africa many have become successful in promoting their goals.    


  1. 1.0 1.1 Foundation, Peace Parks. "KAVANGO ZAMBEZI". Peace Parks Foundation.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 van Amerom, M., & Büscher, B. (2005). Peace parks in Southern Africa: bringers of an African Renaissance? The Journal of Modern African Studies, 43(2).
  3. Convention on Biological Diversity (2017). "Peace Parks".
  4. "Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park".
  5. "Where". Peace Parks: Where.
  6. Mramba, Sist J. (1 Nov 2004). "The peace parks initiative: a breakthrough towards sustainable natural resource management in Southern Africa?". South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy No. 2. 11 (2).
  7. 7.0 7.1 Myburgh, Kozette (2012-08-27). "COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE |AI-|AIS/RICHTERSVELD TRANSFRONTIER CONSERVATION PARK". Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology – via SUNScholar Research Repository.
  8. "Desert Knights Mountain Bike Tour". Peace Prks Foundation. 21 Apr 2017.
  9. Stewart, Brian A.; Mitchell, Peter J. (15 September 2018). "Late Quaternary palaeoclimates and human-environment dynamics of the Maloti-Drakensberg region, southern Africa". Quaternary Science Reviews. 196: 1–20 – via Elsevier ScienceDirect.
  11. Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (19 August 2021). "Collaborative conservation continues between South Africa and Mozambique". Republic of South Africa's, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.
  12. "Lubombo Peace Park Foundation". 2020.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Lenggenhager, L., & Ramutsindela, M (2021). "Property killed a peace park dream: The entanglement of property, politics and conservation along the Gariep. Land Use Policy, 105, 105392". Land Use Policy.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Büscher, B., & Ramutsindela, M (2016). "Why Southern Africa's peace parks are sliding into War parks. Down To Earth".CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Save the Rhino (2021). "Rhino numbers plunge in Kruger National Park".
  16. Rosaleen Duffy (2014). "Nature-based tourism and neoliberalism: concealingcontradictions, Tourism Geographies". An International Journal of Tourism Space, Place andEnvironment.

Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
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