The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) is a conservation area on an unprecedented scale. Encompassing 109 million acres and crossing five southern Africa countries—Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe— KAZA is the largest transboundary conservation area in the world.
In August 2011, the presidents of the five countries signed a treaty to promote a culture of peace and shared resources as they strengthen regional economies through wildlife tourism. KAZA aims to improve the livelihoods of the 2.5 million people who live in the Okavango and Zambezi river basin regions of Southern Africa.
WWF supported the development of KAZA and will leverage its extensive expertise in Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), to ensure that local communities benefit economically from wildlife on their land, through conservation of animals and their habitats and the creation of a world-class tourism experience.
Forty-four percent of Africa’s total elephant population—an estimated 325,000 elephants—live within the KAZA boundaries. Other wildlife in KAZA include hippos, rhinos, lions, cheetahs and leopards.
KAZA’s landscape features woodlands, wetlands and savannas. Highlights include renowned tourist attractions such as Victoria Falls (the world’s largest waterfall) and the Okavango Delta.
KAZA has the potential to address several key issues that impact wildlife populations:
- Poaching - By joining forces, the five countries can more effectively combat international wildlife trade and poaching through information sharing, joint patrols and surveillance, as well as harmonized law enforcement policies.
- Economic and Conservation Resources – Partnering countries can pool their resources to protect the landscape and attract investors to the region, providing an economic boost to the people who live within the conservation area.
- Landmines in Southeast Angola – A remnant of Angola’s past civil war, there is hope that KAZA will help leverage the resources necessary to finally remove them.
- Fences – Thousands of miles of fence are spread across the KAZA landscape impeding the natural and historic movement of elephants and other species. Assisted by increased interest and investment in the region, solutions may be found to reopen corridors allowing for wildlife movement.
- Protection of species – All of this work will go towards increasing wildlife populations and providing them the freedom to roam. Additionally, KAZA will help protect upland forests, critical to river flows and wetlands.
Located in the Miombo Ecoregion, the area that makes up KAZA has been a priority for WWF since 2003. With offices in three out of five KAZA countries—Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia—WWF has been and will continue to be active in the region. Moving forward, WWF will use its expertise to:
- Increase the participation of local communities in natural resource management and ensure that they are key benefactors of KAZA and the money generated through its tourism related activities.
- Contribute to species conservation and transboundary land-use planning.