KAZA on show

A film evening with the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area – KAZA – as its focus was hosted by the MET and KfW German Development Bank at the Scientific Society on 1 November.

The world’s largest transfrontier conservation area straddles Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with Namibia’s Zambezi Region at its geographical centre. The films brought KAZA and conservation to life for a Windhoek audience, and provoked thoughtful questions afterwards.

KfW came into being as a development bank following the Second World War, with a primary aim of financing German reconstruction. It now works worldwide as well, and has invested 35.5 million Euros in KAZA.

The first film to be shown, produced by German television Sat3, was made as KAZA was getting underway as a five-country conservation initiative, to be financed in the long-term by the growth of community-based tourism. Objectives included the harmonization of conservation policies between the five countries, and increased movement of wildlife between them.

A comparison was made between Chobe National Park in Botswana, and Sioma Ngwezi in Zambia. Chobe is rich in wildlife and conservation is financed by the many tourists visiting. Its Zambian counterpart had much less wildlife when KAZA began, almost no finance from tourism, and considerable problems from poaching.

KAZA, argued the film, will bring positive change. We heard from a former poacher who has become a game guard in Sioma Ngwezi, as elephants begin to regain their historic migration routes between Botswana and the countries to its north due to the removal of some fencing.

Can tourism bring an increase in living standards, asked a Zambian park ranger? The film showed a Zambian visit to lodges in Namibia, run as joint ventures between communal conservancies and the private sector. Communities benefit from jobs and income is generated for conservation.

Dr. Uwe Stoll, Director of the KfW office in Windhoek introduced the films with some facts. The development bank is the third largest in Germany, and has invested 275 million Euros in Namibia, including transport infrastructure, and is poised to invest a further 100 million which will include the water sector. Part of the 35 million Euros invested in KAZA has paid for improved park infrastructure: the new Khaudum headquarters in Namibia was opened just last week, he said.

The other three films were a short promotional video showing the progression of KAZA since its inception, a film about ranger training in Kruger National Park, which is benefitting the whole of Africa, and a short film about rhino poaching in South Africa.

With the floor open to questions, Kenneth Uiseb from the MET & Dr Russell Taylor from WWF stressed the importance of harmonization of policies. There must be comparable standards in law enforcement to counter poaching in all five KAZA states, and for tourism to take off. KAZA is a big selling point for lodge operators in the conservation area, stated KfWs Senior Project Manager for Natural Resources in Windhoek, Lydia von Krosigk. She added that the MET was engaged in tourism planning, and that some areas and parks could take more tourists, such as Khaudum National Park.

One questioner asked whether Lodges and Parks within KAZA would be affordable to locals. MET’s Deputy Director of Scientific Services, Kenneth Uiseb, pointed out the possibilities, including camping. Taking up Dr Taylor’s point that school children need to be exposed to wildlife and conservation, he ended with the thought: “Go and see for yourself!”

 

Steve Felton
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