The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress in the Rwandan capital of Kigali was the first ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, and interest groups to have taken place. Discussions involved the role of protected areas in conserving nature, safeguarding Africa’s iconic wildlife, delivering vital life-supporting ecosystem services, and promoting sustainable development while conserving Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions. Peace Parks Foundation was well-represented, and Dr Bartolomeu Soto, regional manager in southern Mozambique, presented the Foundation’s work in rewilding and restoring protected areas.
Dr Soto was a guest speaker in a session that covered the topic of connectivity and socio-economic development in southern African landscapes. He shared the challenges and successes that Peace Parks Foundation experienced during the rewilding processes within the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area and the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
The reintroduction of wildlife such as elephant and rhino also revitalises ancient wildlife corridors and migratory routes across man-made borders. Peace Parks is committed to ensuring that these corridors are successfully re-established by creating safe havens for migratory animals and helps to mitigate any human-wildlife conflict to allow for the wildlife to move freely between protected areas. Rangers play a large role reducing instances of human-wildlife conflict by teaching communities about the value of wildlife and equipping them with the knowledge of how to best live in harmony in nature.
As the wildlife numbers continue to increase within these protected areas, Peace Parks has been busy implementing tourism development plans in both Maputo and Zinave national parks. If you’re interested in learning more about Zinave’s new tourism plans, watch this. Having visitors come and spend time in these parks directly contributes to helping rural communities lift themselves out of poverty through employment opportunities.
Peace Parks Foundation is contributing significantly to the overarching objective of the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress, which is to help position Africa’s protected areas within the broader goals of economic development and community well-being. This needs to happen alongside an increased understanding of the vital role that parks play in conserving and promoting biodiversity while ensuring that human welfare and livelihoods are taken care of (source: https://apacongress.africa/).