Victoria Falls – Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, has described the increasing rate of elephant and rhino poaching and corruption as posing a more serious threat than climate change.
Africa has in recent years seen an increase in poaching of elephant, rhino and the scaly pangolin whose products fetch outrageous sums in China and other Asian countries.
Khama suggests the scourge should be dealt with convincingly and decidedly in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA.)
Khama made the remarks after signing the hosting agreement between the KAZA Secretariat and the Botswana Government at the State of KAZA Symposium 2016, which was held at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, last week.
The signing of the hosting agreement will now see the KAZA Secretariat operate as a legal entity in Kasane, Botswana where it has been based since 2011.
“We have now officially signed the hosting agreement between KAZA Secretariat and the Botswana Government for the five countries. It is the hosting agreement that KAZA Secretariat and Botswana have now finalised,” Khama said. KAZA TFCA is often referred to as the most ambitious conservation project in the world.
“We as KAZA countries will have expectations of it aligned to its mandate as stakeholders. We also have obligations to see the success of both the KAZA Secretariat and KAZA TFCA and more than that, it’s about how we show our commitments and honour them. But this has to be implemented by us being serious and sincere in our efforts so that we can be held accountable for what we achieve,” Khama said.
He said said failure “per country” should not be an option. “It is not about us on a podium, it is not about us as individual countries, it is about the guarantee of the existence of wildlife species into the future, which with the recently ended CITES conference we have seen countries which are not home to any of these species, so vote to determine their future.”
According to the executive director of the KAZA Secretariat, Dr Morris Mtsambiwa, who signed on behalf of the secretariat, KAZA can now perform legal activities whereas before they hadn’t been handling issues like contracts and so forth, because of the fact they were not registered as a legal entity in Botswana.
“The peace parks foundation has been the body that was requested by the partner countries to play that role on our behalf, but with the signing of the hosting agreement we can now enter into contracts with all service providers, and that is what it means,” Mtsambiwa said.
Apart from handling contracts the other benefit is that KAZA TFCA as a legal entity can now sue (or be sued) and also do fundraising. “We can also use our status to do fundraising, also use that status to acquire properties and so forth in Botswana,” Mtsambiwa added.
KAZA TFCA is Africa’s largest conservation landscape and the world’s largest initiative that has joined Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It covers an area of about 520 000 square kilometres and is one of the African landscapes that still hosts large herds of herbivores and many carnivores/predators, a sign of a landscape that remains remarkably intact.
The symposium was attended by government representatives, NGOs as well as conservation biologists and scientists from the five partner countries Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as traditional leaders in the KAZA TFCA sphere of operations. KAZA TFCA/KAZA Secretariat is funded by the German government through the German Development Bank (kfW) and also by the Peace Parks Foundation.
The State of KAZA Symposium 2016, which started last Monday and ended on Wednesday was held under the theme, “Where have we come from, where are we now and where are we going.”