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Kavango Zambezi

Major Features

Cultural Importance

Socio-economic development

KAZA TFCA is home to approximately two million people who will not be required to resettle outside TFCA boundaries. Rather, the KAZA TFCA authorities hope to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people residing within the TFCA by routing development, tourism and conservation projects to them in line with the KAZA TFCA objectives. 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.

Wildlife

The proposed TFCA embraces most of the Okavango River Basin, an integral part of an ecosystem that is connected to the Upper Zambezi River Basin, extending the regional links of this important area to five countries. It attracts large-scale migrations of mega fauna and several Red Data Book animal species, making this a wilderness of global biological significance. With parts still relatively undisturbed by human activity, and a surprisingly high number of species recorded from the miombo woodlands, it is anticipated that the TFCA will play a valuable role in the conservation of biodiversity not covered elsewhere in Africa and make a significant contribution towards the conservation of such threatened species as the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus), Nile crocodile (Crocodylus nilotica) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). The TFCA offers an opportunity to apply landscape approaches supported by harmonized regional legislation to the ecological sciences and biodiversity conservation.

Plants

© 2009 Koos van der Lende
© 2009 Koos van der Lende
Four main structural vegetation types are recognized in the KAZA TFCA area, namely grassland; wetland; dry forest (Cryptosepalum) which is very localized in the north; and various types of woodland (Baikiaea, miombo, mopane, Acacia) which cover the greatest portion of the area.

Mammals

© 2009 Michael Viljoen
© 2009 Michael Viljoen
The area has one of the richest mammalian assemblages in southern Africa, with a full complement of both herbivores and carnivores. Natural predator/prey cycles still occur, a consequence of the high proportion of formally protected areas in the TFCA. The TFCA boasts the largest contiguous population of the African elephant (approximately 250,000) 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 imminent activities of the KAZA TFCA which are expected to offer welcome alternatives to relieving high elephant population pressures in some areas.

Birds

© 2009 Michael Viljoen
© 2009 Michael Viljoen
Of the 601 species recorded, 524 are known to breed within the TFCA. There are 76 palaearctic migrants and an additional 52 intra-African migrants. Many reside for a number of months in wetlands, pans or floodplains, while others wander at will over grasslands and thornveld. These species know no boundaries, again showing the importance of a transfrontier approach to conservation.

Reptiles and Amphibians

The KAZA TFCA is a meeting place of the reptilian and amphibian fauna from the Kalahari, the Upper Zambezi, and the broad-leaved woodlands of Central Africa. There are 128 species of reptiles and 50 species of amphibians.

Aquatic biodiversity

Aquatic biodiversity is of great significance in the Upper Zambezi River system and its natural resources are vital elements in sustaining the local populace and economy.
© 2009 Michael Viljoen
© 2009 Michael Viljoen

Invertebrates

Invertebrate groups feature strongly in the TFCA. Of the almost 300 butterfly species recorded, most are found in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Eighteen species of interest have been identified from the area, including two near-endemic subspecies, (Modest Bar, Cigaritis modestus modestus and Fiery Acraea Acraea acrita ambigua) and one endemic species (Norman's Copper Erikssonia alaponoxa) known only in the miombo woodland near Kataba in Zambia. The latter is also considered threatened.