The future of Zinave drastically changed in 2015 when a co-management agreement was signed with Peace Parks Foundation to jointly develop the park as an integral component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. Since then over 2400 animals have been translocated to the park´s 18 600-ha fenced wildlife sanctuary. More recently, zebra and wildebeest were released into the larger expanse of the 400 000-ha park, outside of the boundary of the sanctuary.

The Save River, which runs through Zinave National Park, represents an important crossing point for nomadic mammals that cross the Limpopo region, drawn by the water and the varied vegetation along the river. The more readily available food source also attracts the birds.

Unlike translocations of large mammals, bird species come or go of their own accord. It is by revitalising and rejuvenating the habitat, thus boosting food and nesting sites, that attracts them to certain parts of transfrontier conservation areas.

In Zinave there is no perennial water except for the Save River, so when the rains come and streams fill up the dry pans, the land literally bursts into life. The crystal-clear water in the pan teems with fish. Dragonflies, butterflies, reed frogs and other wildlife emerge. This attracts migrating birds and animals to the water and food sources. So, biodiversity literally blossoms. This is fantastic both for the environment and also good news for future tourists as a vibrant landscape teeming with flora and fauna attracts more than the populations of hippo and crocodile that live here.

Bird-watchers are low-impact tourists that might well be attracted to the region in the future. Here, Peace Parks’ Stefan (Project Systems and Compliance Manager) enjoys some time out in the field and is delighted to spot dozens of different bird species. In one afternoon he logs the White-faced whistling duck, the African skimmer and the Lilac-breasted roller. Not bad for an hour’s river adventure on the Save.