Transfrontier conservation areas
Africa's colonial boundaries were drawn up thousands of kilometres away, and over a century ago. And all too often, lines drawn on a map divided clans, cut through wildlife migration routes and fragmented eco-systems.
Peace parks, or transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) are designed to smudge those lines. Since the first was established in 2000, another five have swiftly followed, involving all of South Africa's neighbours.
Transfrontier parks are a shared natural asset base between countries, protecting the rivers and mountains that were often used as convenient border markers. Transfrontier nature reserves protect these ecosystems for everyone's benefit. And by happy coincidence, they are set in some of Africa's most beautiful areas.
The Transfrontier parks involving South Africa are: Ai-Ais Richtersveld, Kgalagadi, Greater Mapungubwe, Maloti-Drakensberg, Great Limpopo and Lubombo.
Once the political will between countries is in place, the process begins. But creating transfrontier conservation areas is a complex issue. International treaties must be signed. Communities living in and around conservation areas must be consulted. Veterinary policies and protocols must be coordinated for the translocation of animals. Roads and accommodation must be constructed.
The Peace Parks Foundation facilitates all of that, as well as the training of the people who will manage the ecosystems and make tourists fell welcome. There is a steady flow of African students through the Southern African Wildlife College near the Kruger National Park and the South African College for Tourism in Graaff-Reinet.
The idea also gives wings to the growing ecotourism appeal of southern Africa as a whole. And tourism is one of the most effective job creators in the world.