Situated at the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Limpopo and the Shashe Rivers, the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area is an open, expansive savannah dotted with large and ancient baobab trees and an array of wildlife. Mapungubwe is considered to have been the centre of the earliest known Sub-Saharan African kingdom, which dates to the Iron Age between roughly 900-1 300 AD.

Today, this unique conservation area stretches over the boundaries of three countries: Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and in recognition of the importance of the Mapungubwe culture, it was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 2003. Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation’s CEO, takes us with him on a visit to Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa and explains Peace Parks’ involvement in establishing the transfrontier conservation area and the park. He describes the area’s unique conservation model and why it is a sought-after destination for wildlife lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Peace Parks Foundation began its work in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area in 2001 when the organisation started supporting the development of a national park and investing in securing land and properties on the South African side of the borders. This was all then donated to South African National Parks (SANParks) to enable the proclamation of the Mapungubwe National Park.

The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area is a great example of the importance of transfrontier parks and why having no boundaries and free-flowing wildlife corridors between countries is vitally important. The conservation area comprises two very different land uses, with a wildlife-based economy on both the South African and Botswana sides and a rural-agricultural based economy within the Marimani community on the Zimbabwean side.

To marry the two landscapes and instil a balance between the neighbouring countries, Peace Parks Foundation launched a Herding 4 Health programme which will work with the Marimani community in Zimbabwe. This will ensure that they can optimally herd cattle by following a structured grazing plan which will aim to reduce human-wildlife conflict and to utilise the environment properly for year-round grazing.

Peace Parks Foundation is dedicated to the cross-border conservation of large landscapes throughout southern Africa. Here, in this special area, it will continue to help ensure that the land and cultural history of generations passed are preserved for generations to come.