Did you know?
Transfrontier conservation areas in southern Africa now encompass over a million square kilometres of land.
Looking at a map of southern Africa, the green patches of national parks stand out like havens. In 1990, a few good people started wondering what it would take to link some of those patches together.
It was an audacious idea: an open Africa where borders arbitrarily drawn up a century ago could be smudged, fences dropped, wildlife migration routes re-established and people united.
Organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Endangered Wildlife Trust swiftly became involved, presidents of neighbouring countries were visited, high-level treaties drawn up. The Peace Parks Foundation was established in 1997 with Nelson Mandela, His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Dr Anton Rupert as founding patrons.
In 2000, the first Peace Park was proclaimed, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a collaboration between Botswana and South Africa.
Another two have been proclaimed since then and another three transfrontier conservation areas are being prepared. South Africa now has a Peace Park with every single one of its neighbours: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. And the Peace Parks Foundation has begun facilitating other African transfrontier conservation areas in countries further north.
People and skills are critical to the success of these parks. Because of this, the Peace Parks Foundation also runs the Southern African Wildlife College and the SA College for Tourism.
This is one of Africa's noblest endeavours. As Peace Parks Foundation patron Nelson Mandela so aptly put it:
'I know of no political movement, no philosophy, and no ideology which does not agree with the peace parks concept as we see it going into fruition today. It is a concept that can be embraced by all. In a world beset by conflict and division, peace is one of the cornerstones of the future. Peace parks are building blocks in this process, not only in our region, but potentially the entire world.'
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Who to contact
Peace Parks Foundation
Tel: +27 (0)21 880 5100