Poaching mars the image of peace parks

17 Dec 2012

Rapidly growing incidents of poaching in the Chobe area are tainting the image of peace parks such as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Area (KAZA TFCA).

The KAZA TFCA is potentially the world’s largest conservation area, spanning five Southern African countries – Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and centred on the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area.

There are fears that the idea to ease movement of wild animals between the member states by way of peace parks might be affected by poaching of wild animals such as elephants in Botswana.
The poachers’ invasion of the Chobe area, it is feared, will compromise the idea of peace parks which is aimed at creating migratory routes for wildlife.

Okavango Research Centre Deputy Director, Professor Joseph Mbaiwa, said the idea to establish peace parks was good idea for the movement of wild animals as the country was seeing a declining number of some wild animal species.

Mbaiwa noted that it would be a drawback if such incidents are being perpetrated by citizens of countries that established KAZA with the common goal of creating migratory routes of wild animals.

He said that creating migratory routes through peace parks such as KAZA was important when it comes to the breeding of wild animals. He called on member states to come up with developments that would curb poaching in peace parks.

“The reluctance of states in establishing anti poaching units also brings fears about the safety of animals that cross from Botswana to other countries,” Mbaiwa said. “It is a disadvantage to us if there are no instruments in place to deter poachers from killing wild animals. Poachers could take advantage of this and continue poaching and Botswana will experience a further decline of wild animal species.”

He called on SADC countries that have agreed to establish peace parks to tighten their protocols to deter poaching. Mbaiwa said countries that have signed treaties such KAZA were at the mercy of poachers who could use loopholes that exist in peace parks agreements.

“It is easier for poachers to kill wild animals when they cross into their borders. This will result in the declining of wildlife animal population in the country, a situation that could impact negatively on tourism,” he said.

“We have to tighten the protocols and agreements to close the gaps that exist. We have to step forward because poachers are using sophisticated poaching method,” added Mbaiwa.

The Botswana Defence Force has deployed their anti poaching unit lately to address poaching in Chobe after poachers were alleged to have killed 11 elephants.

KAZA TFCA is expected to incorporate the largest contiguous elephant population on the African continent.

The area is also endowed with an abundance and diversity of wildlife species that are of considerable economic and ecological value. The KAZA TFCA ministers’ meeting also discussed the issue of poaching when they met last month in Livingstone, Zambia, to review progress on the development of KAZA TFCA.