Representatives from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique met in Skukuza on October 17 to 19 to discuss the research priorities, procedures and protocols facing the three countries as they merge Kruger, Gonarezhou and Limpopo National Parks into the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
The talks also included research in the other conservation areas in the region that will ultimately fall into the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA).
At this point, the research topics under consideration are very broad. Preliminary outcomes of the workshop indicate that some of the research priorities include looking at the potential threats of natural disasters and climate change issues; people's dependence on ecosystems for their basic livelihoods and agriculture, especially in Zimbabwe and Mozambique; and looking at the different cultural resources in the broader transfrontier conservation area.
The meeting was attended by members of the management committee of the Joint Management Board (JMB) of the GLTP, Sanparks and environmental affairs officials, representatives from the Peace Parks Foundation as well as many of the lead researchers in the area.
According to Piet Theron, the Sanparks TFCA programme manager, the meeting went "very well" and a concept paper will be drawn up on joint research opportunities. This will be presented to management at the next JMB meeting in February next year.
It will be followed up on in March with the scientists, when the Kruger Park has its annual scientific services' networking meeting. As the key issues in the GLTFCA are identified, they will be developed into more specific research projects. Funding can then be sourced to drive these projects.