Africa's largest transfrontier conservation area (TFCA) was initiated recently when an agreement was signed at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The scheme will include regions, parks, and nature reserves of five countries. The TFCA will be home to the largest contiguous population of elephants in the world, some 250,000 elephants.
These elephants, and other wildlife, will be free to roam an area of over 287,000km2, comparable in size to the entire country of Italy. In early December, representatives from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe met at Victoria Falls Hotel, in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
In a small ceremony a memorandum of understanding was signed, ensuring inter-regional cooperation and future development of the concept. The area, named the Kavango-Zambezi TFCA (KAZA TFCA), is situated around the Okavango and Zambezi river basins. It will include the Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park, the Okavango Delta, and Victoria Falls. In addition to the conservation advantages of the project, the KAZA TFCA will encourage socio-economic growth in the region.
The graph shows rainfall recorded across the Kruger National Park from September 2005 to November 2006, with actual rainfall compared with the long-term average. The actual rainfall figure is an average obtained from measurements recorded at various rainfall stations located throughout park.
There are more than 30 rainfall stations that record daily rainfall in Kruger, in such places as the major rest camps and the section ranger stations. Trails camps and some concession areas also record rainfall. If rainfall figures have been kept for more than 15 years, the long-term average for a particular station can be worked out.
Rainfall data is collected once a month by Nick Zambatis in the park's scientific services department. All stations with long-term data are combined to provide a park-wide monthly and annual average rainfall figure. The park's climatic year runs from July 1 to June 30, and the long-term average for the entire year is 537.2mm. The figure recorded here for November 2006 is a preliminary figure, as a few stations' figures are still outstanding.
During the recent biodiversity surveys in the park in the first week of November, some members of scientific services were surprised to discover the African wattle trees (Peltophorum africanum) buzzing with unusual insect life. Guin Zambatis took a closer look at the flowers and noticed that they were full of distinctive flies with red heads. The flies are known as Bromophila caffra, and belong to the family Platysomatidae and are commonly known as "Platysomatid flies".
"Platy" originates from Latin and means broad and "soma" refers to the body. Guin's quick look in Scholtz and Holm's 'Insects of Southern Africa' revealed that in southern Africa about 19 Platysomatidae genera occur which are made up of 80 species. The adults are attracted to flowers, decaying fruit, mammalian faeces, human wounds and decomposing snails.
The donation of 10 cattle will have significantly brightened the festive season for several residents of the Dumphries village adjoining the Sabi-Sand Wildtuin in the Mpumalanga province. In March of this year, the village received national media attention when a pride of lions broke out of the Sabi-Sands and terrorised the villagers and their livestock before a heavy death toll in both cattle and lions was exacted and the situation resolved.
Several individuals and companies, touched by the plight of those who lost livestock, made donations to help compensate the affected individuals. Rather than simply giving money, a lot of effort was put into finding replacement cattle to give to those people who lost animals.
The replacement of the cattle was facilitated and assisted by the Sabi-Sands management. Warden Gavin Hulett said that it was surprisingly hard to find the cattle, and they had to be sourced from a number of different sellers. One of the challenges was finding cattle that would already be accustomed to the various diseases endemic to the lowveld, and so the search for suitable cattle was conducted mostly within the Bushbuckridge area.
Hulett expressed his appreciation for the help offered by the council members in the area, as well as a local farmer who held the cattle until all 10 were ready to be handed over. As well as the 10 cattle, money was given to those who lost a donkey and a goat to the lions.