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Towards ‘One Health’

Towards ‘One Health’

Towards ‘One Health’

BY CLARA BOCCHINO, AHEAD-GLTFCA (University of Pretoria and South African National Parks)

The establishment of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) in southern Africa has triggereddebates among academics, governments and a variety of stakeholders on the best ways to support the sustainable implementation of this relatively new, but potentially groundbreaking concept.

An important regional gathering took place in May at the Painted Dog Conservation facilities near Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, merging two important entities: the Research Platform – Production and Conservation in Partnership (RP-PCP) and the Animal & Human Health for the Environment and Development- Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (AHEAD-GLTFCA) Working Group.

Taking a ‘One Health’ approach, which aims at balancing human health, animal health (wildlife and livestock) and environmental health, over the course of four days the conference provided insights which will likely influence the success of transfrontier conservation in the region:

  • TFCAs as complex socio-ecological systems: drivers for transboundary natural resources management;
  • Agriculture and animal production activities within TFCAs;
  • Animal and human health in the management of TFCAs;
  • Policy law and other legal instruments for the governance of TFCAs;
  • Human security in TFCAs: approaches and models.

Within the conference,10 keynote addresses, over 15 student speed presentations and 40 full presentations set the scene to discuss the current status of both the Kavango Zambezi and the Great Limpopo TFCAs, comparing them to other regional areas such as Great Mapungubwe, and identifying achievements and challenges.

Researchers and academics, government officials and community representatives participated in the various sessions, which provided for highly stimulating debates on how to merge people and government priorities while trying to improve ecosystem management for wildlife and other essential resources, such as water, grazing or wood.

The number of new and upcoming researchers from the region was encouraging, in pursuit of efforts to untangle the conservation conundrum of the future: conservation for rural development and how to manage species survival within this framework.

Students also had the privilege of engaging directly with regional experts in all fields including Prof David Cumming, Prof Marshall Murphree, Prof Lucille Blumberg, Prof Gift Matope, Prof Ken Giller, Prof Peter Mundy, Prof Tumai Murombo and Prof Elmien du Plessis.

The conference stimulated great interest in various Zimbabwean government departments and was awarded the presence and participation of the director of the TFCA Unit for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the principal director of division of Veterinary Field Services for the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services, the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, alongside the international coordinator for the GLTFCA and the liaison officer for the KAZA TFCA, all of this under the aegis of the collaboration between the French Embassy and the Government of Zimbabwe.

A regional conference in Hwange breaks ground for the future of transfrontier conservation areas

The RP-PCP and AHEAD-GLTFCA conference was funded by several international and regional partners: the Embassy of France in Zimbabwe, the European Union, the Resilience in the Limpopo River Basin (RESILIM) programme and the IUCN Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme, with support from the RenCaRe and DREAM projects, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area, University of Pretoria, CIRAD, and North West University. This strengthened the integration and cooperation between all regional programmes supporting natural resources management, conservation and development.

Participants were also exposed to two major regional programmes on natural resources management: RESILIM, funded by USAID, and IUCN BIOPAMA. Both organisations held separate workshops to present their programmes and gather input from the experts on governance and management systems, disaster risk reduction strategies and regional nature conservation needs.

During the conference, important points were agreed by the participants with regard to the role of TFCAs in the region, the sustainable use and management of all natural resources and the role of rural people in conservation:

    • Wildlife resources are a local commons and need to be managed as such, not just following global imperatives;
    • Each locality has its own strengths and weaknesses, therefore only the principles applied to solving mechanisms and projects may be replicable as guidelines;
    • Habitat quality is the most important driver for the provision of services supporting both conservation and rural development;

Legislation needs to support both government needs and people’s concerns, such as the case for compensation for human and economic losses due to wildlife.

Communication was deemed the most important cross-cutting issue, because it provides the opportunity to link different stakeholders and ensure that communities and government departments work together towards meeting the same goals.

More information on the conference can be found throughout this issue of the Zambezi Traveller. In the spirit of collaboration, all the institutions involved want to ensure that the results of their work are more accessible – doing so helps create a better consciousness of the important roles TFCAs and people living in these landscapes have in conservation success.


The French research organisation CIRAD (Agricultural Research for Development) has been carrying out research and development projects with Zimbabwean partners for more than 20 years. Officially created in 2007, the RP-PCP (Research Platform - Production and Conservation in Partnership) associates with the University of Zimbabwe, the National University of Science and Technology, the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and the French Embassy in Zimbabwe. This multidisciplinary platform supports applied research and post-graduate training on all aspects related to interactions between protected areas and their peripheries in southern Africa.


Established by the Wildlife Conservation Society during the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress (Durban, South Africa), the AHEAD-GLTFCA Working Group was conceived as a facilitating mechanism for the implementation of what used to be the biggest TFCA in the region. Every year (sometimes more than once per year), the working group meets to discuss important issues arising from the GLTFCA implementation, to support science-based decision-making. The working group grew into a larger network, which is now (since 2012) coordinated by the University of Pretoria, Centre for Veterinary Wildlife Studies and South African National Parks. The working group has been an important information hub for TFCA research and communication in the region through its cooperation with a variety of research, NGO and government institutions.

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

More on transfrontier parks from this issue of the Zambezi Traveller:
Towards one health
After the fences came down
Between man and nature
Solutions for conflict with lions
Pomp and ceremony at KAZA event
Tourism, beef or both?
Simalaha gains momentum
Looking to the future