African Parks, the nonprofit organization responsible for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in eleven African countries, has announced a five-year, €16.9 million ($19.1 million) grant from the Dutch Postcode Lottery to address the ecological and socioeconomic development of the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) region, the world's largest terrestrial transfrontier conservation area.
Awarded through the lottery's Dream Fund, the grant will support the combined efforts of African Parks, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and the Peace Parks Foundation, in partnership with the KAZA Secretariat, to develop safe havens for the active protection of wildlife and biodiversity, establish connectivity through ecological corridors for migratory animals, and secure healthy rivers and catchment areas for the provision of fresh water. The gift will also be used to boost the capacity of the secretariat to serve as the long-term custodian of the region.
A cross-border ecosystem the size of France, KAZA straddles the borders of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and is home to approximately half of Africa's savannah elephants, 25 percent of its wild dogs, nearly 20 percent of its lions, and 15 percent of the world's wild cheetahs. The projects have the potential to bring the KAZA partner states closer to successfully leveraging conservation as the main economic driver in the region and will help them protect the region's wildlife populations, counter the effects of climate change, safeguard and sustainably shared resources, and enhance the well-being of local communities.
"The Dutch Postcode Lottery and their players have provided an astounding contribution to one of the continent's most important transboundary landscapes," said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead. "Their transformational grant mobilizes a unique collaboration between government and NGO partners to secure this vital network of protected areas and natural systems, assuring the KAZA TCFA's integrity as a foundation for social, ecological, and economic sustainability in the region."
(Photo credit: Mana Meadows)