Largest international conservation area formed in southern Africa

An elephant on the newly formed international conservation areaOn Thursday of this week five nations in southern Africa announced plans to form a new international conservation area that will be the largest of its kind once it is complete. This unprecedented move was made to allow the participating nations to combine their conservation efforts and combat illegal poaching in a more efficient manner.

Under the agreement, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana will combine 36 nature preserves that are currently managed independently of one another. The newly unified conservation area will be roughly the size of Sweden and will provide wildlife with more than 170,000 square miles of unbroken territory to freely migrate through. This new preserve will be expansive enough to encompass both Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, two of the more spectacular settings in all of Africa.

Conservationists are hailing the move as a good one for southern Africa. The newly formed Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is home to roughly 45% of the total elephant population on the continent and will also feature more than 600 species of birds alone. Other big game, such as zebra, giraffe, buffalo and lion will be plentiful there as well.

Of particular concern for each of the countries involved with the project is protecting the elephant herds that live there. Poaching has become a major concern across Africa where the animals are routinely hunted and killed illegally to harvest their ivory tusks. With each nation working more cooperatively inside the conservation area, however, they hope to prevent much of the poaching that has gone on in the region over the past few years.