COUNTRIES: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
AREA: 520,000 km2
STATUS: Category A: Treaty signed on 18 August 2011
Too vast to describe with any accuracy, the sheer scope of this TFCA bewilders the mind with a range of experiences, from the ‘Smoke-that-Thunders’, the Victoria Falls, to the great Zambezi River. Thundering waterfalls, running through wide stretches of savannah and marsh, rustling forest and woodland, and finally sluggishly ambling a thousand changing paths through the majestic Okavango Delta – these moments and more are available to the explorer of Kavango-Zambezi TFCA.
This expansive Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA is the world’s largest TFCA at approximately 520,000 km2. Occupying part of the Okavango and Zambezi river basins, it encompasses areas within the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and includes 36 formally proclaimed national parks and a host of game reserves, forest reserves, game management areas, communal lands and conservation and tourism concession areas designated for use of natural resources. Most well-known components of the TFCA are the Chobe National Park, Hwange National Park, Kafue National Park, the Makgadikgadi Pans, the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls.
In KAZA TFCA the five countries have created an opportunity to harmonize regional legislation towards landscape approaches to conservation and sustainable rural development. During the SADC Summit in Luanda, Angola, on 18 August 2011, the Presidents of all five KAZA countries signed a Treaty which formally established the KAZA TFCA. Shortly after on 26 August 2011 the KAZA TFCA Secretariat’s offices were officially opened, facilitating the implementation of projects and programmes in KAZA partner countries. This is the first TFCA Secretariat in the SADC Region. Biggest financial supporter is the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through the German Development Bank, KfW.
Natural and Cultural Heritage
The TFCA is home to the Victoria Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Victoria Falls presents a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Besides Victoria Falls, KAZA TFCA harbours two further UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Okavango Delta and Tsodilo Hills. The Okavango Delta is a unique permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains. It is the largest Ramsar Wetland Site and one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean. Depending on the season, the delta covers between 6,000 and 15,000 km2 of Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana and owes its existence to the Okavango (Kavango) River. The river flows from the Angolan highlands, across Namibia’s Zambezi Region into the Kalahari Desert. The annual flooding arrives when water is most needed in the region, in the middle of the dry season (May-September). In Botswana the delta is protected by both the Moremi Game Reserve, on its eastern edge, and the numerous wildlife concessions within Ngamiland. The Tsodilo Hills are located in Botswana west of the Okavango Delta and close to the Namibian border. They contain one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world, with over 4,500 persevered rock-paintings in an area of only 10 km2.
The scope of KAZA TFCA provides both range and opportunity for diversity of species. There are four key structural vegetation types within the TFCA including grassland, wetland, dry forest and a variety of woodland types covering the greatest portion of the area, as well as saltpans and scrublands. There are more than 3,000 plant species throughout the TFCA, of which 100 are endemic to the sub-region. The TFCA also caters to large-scale migrations of mega fauna; the TFCA contributes to the conservation of threatened species such as African wild dog, lion, cheetah, buffalo, hippopotamus, lechwe, roan, sable, eland, zebra, wildebeest, waterbuck, puku and sitatunga. Over 600 bird species have been identified, as well as 128 reptile species and 50 amphibian species.
Kavango Zambezi TFCA hosts the largest contiguous population of African elephant on the continent, making the elephant the flagship species of the TFCA. Developing harmonised management approaches towards this species and securing movement corridors are some of the critical activities of the KAZA TFCA which are expected to offer relieve high elephant population pressures in some areas with high human-wildlife conflict.
The People of KAZA TFCA
Two million people live in KAZA TFCA. The predominant livelihoods are low-scale pastoralism, hunting, fishing, natural resource harvesting and agriculture. The expansive tourism sector in the TFCA contributes significantly to local employment. The KAZA TFCA authorities hope to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people residing within the TFCA by harmonizing economic development, tourism and conservation. Communities are engaged as partners within the TFCA through comprehensive participatory planning processes. This has begun to result in conservation becoming a more locally viable land-use option. Through cultural tourism, the TFCA authorities aim to celebrate and nourish the rich cultural diversity within the area, allowing communities across borders to share their age-old knowledge and symbolic traditions with each other and the world at large.
- Victoria Falls
- Okavango Delta
- The Zambezi River
- UNESCO World Heritage Site Tsodilo Hills
- Game viewing (Big 5)
- Bird watching
- Whitewater rafting
- Makoro trips
- Cultural Encounters
Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is generally a fly-in destination with airports in Kasane, Livingstone, Victoria Falls and Maun; and a number of landing strips. A good network of roads runs through area, making it simple to cross borders.
Road access is easy between Namibia and Zambia, Botswana and Zambia, and Botswana and Zimbabwe.