KAZA Develops and Nurtures

Region’s Tourism

The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area contains a

world class tourism product and provides the means to sustain the idea. 

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Deep in the heart of the SADC region, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

(KAZA TFCA) – a wildlife conservation area on a massive scale – is creating a unique platform for

conservation of the region’s natural resources.


Within the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, at the south-eastern tip of the KAZA TFCA, the

Trans-Kalahari Predator Project uses a remarkable approach to restore the relationship between

local residents and lions.


The project equips community members with a cellphone for communication, a bicycle for mobility

and a vuvuzela, a traditional African instrument, for making noise. These people, known as the

Long Shields, then ride out with guidance from satellite data to make noise, driving the lions away

from livestock owned by communities within Hwange. In doing so, they reduce conflicts between

the predators and the residents of the KAZA TFCA.


“When lions kill livestock, that impacts negatively on communities. When the local people see a

cow or a goat or a donkey, they see their bank accounts. They can sell a cow for a few hundred

dollars and send their child to school, “says Lovemore Sibanda, the Project Coordinator of the Long

Shields Lion Guardian Programme. “Our latest research suggests that retaliatory killing by farmers

is the biggest cause of lion decline in Hwange.”




“We often go to park management and alert them when there is a ‘problem animal’. We go out with

our vuvuzelas and they go out with their rifles, and because we coordinate our actions we find that

we are successful in chasing lions (away).”


As humans have pushed further into the migratory routes and dispersal areas of large mammals,

there has been a decline in those species. The number of lions in Africa decreased from an estimated

450,000 in the 1940s to barely more than 20,000 today. Between 3,000 and 4,000 of these live in



“Wildlife contributes massively to the region’s socio-economic development,” says Dr Paul

Funston, the Senior Director of Lion and Cheetah Programmes for Panthera. “Lions are the number

one species that tourists want to see in Africa. In areas where you have a photographic tourism

industry, a lion could be worth about USD 100,000 over its lifetime.”


SADC Member States moved to protect these ecologically and economically important animals

through the conversation area. The heads of state of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and

Zimbabwe signed the KAZA Treaty in 2011. The treaty expanded and combined existing

conservation areas in each Member State, leading to the establishment of one of the world’s largest

conservation areas.


With 36 national parks and game reserves

covering 520,000 square kilometres – almost

the size of Botswana – the KAZA TFCA today

is the world’s largest transfrontier conservation

area. It houses some of the region’s most

spectacular tourist attractions, ranging from

Victoria Falls at the Zambia-Zimbabwe

border to the Okavango Delta.

SADC’s support has also led to the

harmonisation of policy and cross-border

regulations as well as to the development of

infrastructure in the TFCA. Combined with the

introduction of the SADC Univisa, this allows

tourists to move more easily between the

different attractions.


The KAZA TFCA is rooted in the ideals of the SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law

Enforcement. The protocol commits Member States to “promote the conservation of shared wildlife

resources through the establishment of transfrontier conservation areas”.

The mandate of the KAZA TFCA Secretariat, which coordinates the partner countries of the TFCA,

compliments key goals enshrined in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP),

SADC’s development blueprint for the period until 2020.

“In 2015, a Master Integrated Development Plan (MIDP) was approved by the partner countries,”

says Dr Morris Mtsambiwa, the Executive Director of the KAZA TFCA Secretariat. “To ensure

integrated development at a regional level, it identified the following as key: natural resources

management, tourism development, livelihood development, integrated landuse planning and

infrastructure development.”


This multi-tiered approach has created a unique opportunity in the KAZA area. “The emergenceof

community-based approaches to conservation means that rural communities are increasingly at the

centre of conservation and development programmes – making them a key role player in KAZA’s

success,” says Dr Mtsambiwa.


“There are a number of crossborder tourism products that are being developed in transfrontier

conservation areas,” says Deborah Kahatano, the Senior Programme Officer for Natural Resources

and Wildlife at the SADC Secretariat.


“I see conservation and tourism as two sides of the same coin,” she adds. “Our tourism in Southern

Africa is dependent on wildlife so without nature conservation, tourism would lose its most

prominent product. And without tourism, there would not be sufficient financial resources available

to fund the required conservation efforts.”

“As a region, we need to enhance these resources so we are able to share the benefits,” says



A key aspect of the TFCA approach is the protection of natural ecosystems, which transcend

national boundaries.

“If I were to look at a map of Africa and draw circles around areas with major conservation

potential, I would draw fourteen circles, and twelve of them would be TFCAs. So it would

immediately be clear that learning to conserve across state boundaries is crucial to the survival of

high value species like elephants and lions in Africa,” says Dr Funston.


“KAZA is one of the great opportunities for research and conservation. It’s bigger, it’s more

complex, and if we can learn how to do it here, surely we can apply those lessons to other areas in


Dr Funston was recently involved in founding the KAZA Carnivore Conservation Coalition. The

coalition allows the KAZA Secretariat, and a network of NGOs, and researchers within KAZA to

share and harmonise data. In line with the spirit of SADC, it promotes collaboration and integration

of key stakeholders across borders for mutual benefit.


Long Shields coordinator Lovemore Sibanda is pursuing his doctorate through Oxford University

based on the conservation work of the Hwange Predator Project.

“Since the project has begun, we have seen a fifty percent decline in violence between communities

and lions,” says Sibanda. “There is hope that they will see that a lot of people get employed as

trackers, as waiters, as drivers, or guides themselves because of the lions.

“I myself am from around here, and right now I am a project manager because of the wildlife.

Lovemore Sibanda: Project Coordinator of the Long Shields Community Guardian Programme, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

A network of conservation NGOs operate in the KAZA TFCA

SADC Protocol:

To protect and market the world class tourism products offered by the region, the SADC Protocol on the Development of Tourism seeks to realise the full potential of the SADC region’s tourism capabilities through sustainable, equitable development. The protocol, signed in 1998, aims to market the region as a single tourism destination and allow for the free movement of tourists in the region.