A transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) that will link the Skeleton Coast Park with Iona National Park across the Kunene River in Angola is expected to be Namibia’s second transfrontier park (TFP).
Holger Kolberg of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) dealing with TFCAs, anticipates that a memorandum of understanding giving the go- ahead will be signed by the end of this year. A treaty between the countries for the establishment of the park may be signed as soon as the end of next year.
The TFP consisting of Iona National Park (established in 1964) and the Skeleton Coast Park (proclaimed in 1971) will cover approximately 30 000 km2. This will have significant implications for the range expansion of certain wildlife species such as the rare and endangered black-faced impala to an area where they historically occurred. Plans include the re-introduction of game such as giraffe, mountain zebra, black-faced impala, hippopotamus and roan antelope.
Protecting the welwitschia
Kolberg says the park will also be important for protecting the Welwitschia mirabilis plants that occur in thousands on the gravel plains of south-western Angola. Better protection for the Kunene River and its ecosystem will also be ensured. With virtually no infrastructure in Iona, Namibia will play an important role in assisting Angola to train park and wildlife management staff and to develop the tourism potential of the area.
Another TFCA that is seen as an important option is in the north east of Namibia where protected areas of five countries border each other. Kolberg says this park is important because of the transboundary migration movements of wildlife such as elephants.
Sanctuary in wetlands
A Southern African wildlife sanctuary in the wetlands associated with the Okavango and Zambezi river systems has been proposed for the creation of a 260 000 km2 protected area. Parks in Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe will be incorporated. Plans have also been developed to proclaim both sides of the Orange River mouth as protected areas. This recognises the international importance of this site as a wetland area under the international Convention on Wetlands, referred to as the Ramsar Convention.
This article appeared in the 2002 edition of Conservation and the Environment in Namibia.