South African National Parks (SANParks) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) signed a Memorandum of Agreement in Skukuza, Kruger National Park on Thursday August 18, 2005. The agreement, which was signed by the KNP’s Acting Executive Director Mr Blake Schraader and the AWF’s Limpopo Heartland Programme Director Dr Simon Munthali, lays the foundation for further co-operation, especially regarding efforts to improve the livelihood of the communities living around the Kruger National Park.
“It certainly seems as if SANParks and the AWF have a lot in common and it is only natural for the two organisations to pool their respective resources so that efforts to develop the communities living on the borders of the Kruger National Park can be fine-tuned so that they really make a difference,” Mr Schraader said. Specific objectives of the agreement include the creation of awareness of potential economic opportunities, the establishment of community institutions such as community development forums, capacity building of community members and co-operation on a number of other initiatives.
Both parties agreed on their respective responsiblities in conservation, development and co-operation. Included in this agreement is an arrangement that an AWF officer, Mr Patrick Chauke, is based in Skukuza to coordinate the AWF’s contribution to the various People and Conservation projects that are initiated in terms of the agreement. The agreement will remain in force for the next five years and can be renewed for another five years, if both parties agree.
The African Wildlife Foundation was established in 1969. In 1999, the AWF began its African Heartlands Programme, ‘an innovative, science-based, landscape level approach to conservation that includes both conservation and development goals.’ The AWF Heartlands total more than 396 000 square kilometres and are located in eastern, central and southern Africa.
The Limpopo Heartland encompasses the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) and adjacent areas in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, totalling 95 624 square kilometers. Each Heartland is made up of protected and unprotected land, and includes land owned by the relevant governments, communities and private land owners.
Intervention strategies undertaken by the AWF include ‘improved land and habitat conservation, support for conservation business ventures, undertaking applied research and species conservation, support for training and capacity building, and, where necessary, policy and legislation work’, says Helen Gochohi, in the AWF newsletter,January to April 2005.