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Message from the CEO of Peace Parks Foundation
Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation
Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation

All over the world, we are witnessing the disappearance of nature as a result of human population growth, rampant development and destruction of ecosystems. Biodiversity loss is now lining up to be one of the greatest man-made crises ever.

By creating and conserving large core conservation areas and corridors to re-establish links between these areas, and by protecting keystone species to maintain these systems, the global trend of mass species die-off and loss of functional ecosystems can definitely be stopped. These very same systems are providing food, energy, medicines, clean water and air to all life on earth.

In Africa, with the highest population growth globally, insufficient resources are allocated towards conserving ecosystems.
And this is the reason for Peace Parks Foundation’s existence: to maintain biodiversity by developing a large-scale conservation approach that promotes the co-existence of people and nature.

After nearly 20 years of pursuing this vision, we take stock of what has been achieved to date and the challenges that lie ahead.





TWO DECADES OF CONSERVATION

Donations Mobilised
Over R5 billion ($400 million – estimated exchange rate) from the donor community has been mobilised through the peace parks concept since inception in 1997 to support conservation, as well as commercial and community development. This is more than R30 million annually.

Projects
Over 500 individual projects, ranging from community development to infrastructure development and anti-poaching, have been initiated and supported.

Postcode Lotteries: Counter-poaching
Thanks to the postcode lotteries, the foundation is making the largest contribution by an African NGO to rhino anti-poaching efforts in South Africa and has, over the past three years, averaged an annual contribution of more than R30 million to a multi-pronged approach, supporting projects ranging from law enforcement and demand reduction to community development. With most efforts supporting Kruger National Park, home to over 30% of the world’s rhino, we are pleased to note that the number of rhino killed over the past two years has stabilised. Although the battle is not yet won, there is hope.

2016 HIGHLIGHTS

Notable highlights on the TFCA front during the year in review include the following:
  • The Desert Kayak Trails were launched in the /Ai/Ais- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, enabling visitors to camp on both sides of the international boundary to explore the unique desert environment while meandering down the Orange River.
  • The first elephants were translocated to Zinave National Park, an integral component of the Great Limpopo TFCA, where the foundation has entered into a longterm co-management agreement with the government of Mozambique.
  • The Hlawula Vutomi (Choose Life) Youth Awareness and Development campaign was launched in partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, reaching over 1 500 youth in four communities who live on the border of the Great Limpopo TFCA in Mozambique.
  • Wildlife populations in areas where the foundation has supported translocations have increased, with particularly good growth in numbers noted in the Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique, part of the Lubombo TFCA; the Simalaha Community Conservancy in Zambia, part of KAZA TFCA; and the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Community Heritage Park adjacent to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
  • A Population, Health and Environment Programme was launched in southern Mozambique adjacent to the Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, with support from Blue Ventures.
  • Altogether, 88 women were trained in hospitality and 16 men in tracking at the SA College for Tourism – with a superb record of 92% of graduates employed in the industry.
  • Forty-eight students attained Higher and Advanced Certificates in Nature Conservation and TFCA Management and 951 students completed a variety of short courses and learnerships at the Southern African Wildlife College.
  • A New Technologies programme was launched to enable the foundation to increase the impact of conservation and development projects.
Various projects to combat wildlife crime were also supported, that included the following:
  • My Hero
    The Vietnam, be my hero campaign directly engaged with 14 000 children in the private schools of Ho Chi Minh City. The campaign is run in partnership with Wilderness Foundation and Thanh Bui.

  • TRAFFIC
    The foundation supported TRAFFIC with the Chi campaign. More than 10 000 business- people across 45 Vietnamese cities and provinces were equipped with the tools and methods to adopt corporate social responsibility policies that incorporate wildlife protection.

  • Meerkat
    The Postcode Meerkat Wide Area Radar Surveillance System was launched in Kruger National Park in an effort to further curb poaching. Within the first month of full operation, 12 poaching gangs were disrupted.
  • Increase in arrests
    A pleasing development this year has been the 63% increase in arrests of crime syndicate members outside protected areas, i.e. those at a more senior level than the poachers entering the parks, including recruiters, couriers and buyers.

  • Furs for Life
    The foundation and Panthera partnered to produce fabric leopard skins through the generosity of Cartier. At the end of 2016, a total of 15 390 skins had been produced and delivered to communities. Considering that the total estimated population of leopard in South Africa stands at a mere 4 500 to 5 000, this project is making a significant contribution to the survival of leopard in the wild.

THE CHALLENGES AHEAD


Exponential growth of wildlife crime throughout Africa
With over 25 000 elephant and over 1 000 rhino lost to poaching every year for the past three years, the challenge is overwhelming and the onslaught relentless. The foundation’s Combatting Wildlife Crime programme has had some success, especially in applying new technologies, focusing on disrupting poaching syndicates and wildlife-trafficking networks, and supporting demand management campaigns in Vietnam and, more recently, China.

Human population growth
Population growth leads to the fragmentation of habitats and local extinction of key species within ecosystems as a result of over-utilisation and remains a significant challenge. Proper planning to optimise land use and empowering people through improved governance to own and manage their own resources are critical interventions to break this cycle. The Simalaha Community Conservancy in Zambia is a prime example of where this has been achieved successfully.

Vulnerable communities

Communities in and around the peace parks are vulnerable to the realities of climate change (both flooding and droughts). Recent successes achieved by the foundation with conservation agriculture justify replication, as the impacts are apparent within a relatively short timeframe and the solution brings about long-term and sustainable change.

Access to cheap and sustainable energy sources
People in rural and remote environments currently spend disproportionately high amounts of time and money to obtain fuel for heating and cooking. The lack of access to better and alternative sources of energy leads to severe pressure on forests, which currently supply over 80% of all energy needs in rural environments. The export of charcoal to cities and illegal logging are also drivers of significant deforestation. Providing renewable or energy-efficient alternatives are key interventions on the foundation’s priority list.