There is little doubt that any visitor who has enjoyed a winter safari to the Chobe River in northern Botswana has seen a lot of elephant. Vast herds literally pour out of the forests and congregate on the Chobe floodplains to feed on lush grass or quench their thirsts.
Many spend hours on the northern territory of Namibia, but the reality is that their movements are stymied by the human and hunting pressures of the Caprivi, blocking age-old migration routes into Zambia beyond. They soon turn back south returning into Botswana to the safety of the National Park. The end result is pressure on the riverfront. Actually a common symptom in African parks.
But the establishment of one of the most ambitious and visionary conservation projects in Africa hopes to change this – not only to the benefit of the ecological diversity, but also to the economic and cultural integrity of the region. It’s known as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. As far as wildlife goes, the benefits are enormous. By linking the islands of over 30 existing game reserves and National Parks with corridors of newly proclaimed and protected land, migration routes could be revitalised.
The concept transcends the Chobe riverfront, as it consists of a partnership between five countries over an area of some 400 000 square kilometres. But in a region known for its conservation lethargy, it certainly has its critics and cynics. Nonetheless, the reality is that the heads of 5 different governments have not only recognised that the future of the regions wild-lands is worth a dialogue, but have entered into an agreement.
And after a dreamy sun-soaked afternoon on the Chobe, littered with elephant, buffalo, puku, hippo and countless birds, it’s really not that difficult to understand why.