So far on our adventures we’ve met a number of animals that call Africa home: the okapi, the cheetah, the black rhino and the African penguin, to name a few. The big conservation news I have to share with you today will hopefully help some of these endangered species and many more that live in Africa.
Five African nations (Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) recently signed a treaty to create the world’s largest conservation area. The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA for short) covers 109 million acres and includes 36 nature reserves. That is an area of land almost equal to the size of California! In August 2011, representatives from the five governments signed a treaty, which became official in March 2012.
The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is the largest conservation area in the world and includes land from five African nations. (Photo Credit: peaceparks.org)
The land within KAZA is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including 44 percent of Africa’s total elephant population and 3,000 bird species. Other animals found in KAZA are crocodiles, leopards, rhinoceroses, buffalos, lions and more. In addition to wild animals, KAZA has 600 plant species and countless landscapes unlike any others in the world. Victoria Falls – located at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe on the Zambezi River – is an especially amazing sight.
African lions are among the wildlife living in KAZA.
KAZA is home to 3,000 bird species. (Photo Credit: Peace Parks Foundation Facebook)
Victoria Falls is sometimes called "the smoke that thunders." (Photo Credit: Tony Mendez)
Conservation areas like KAZA protect wildlife from threats we’ve discussed in past posts, such as habitat alteration and poaching. Though the area’s size will make management and law enforcement challenging, the support of five governments will hopefully help keep safe the plants and animals living within KAZA’s boundaries.
Though this area is protected, it is not off limits. (Remember when we discussed the difference between preservation and conservation in my first blog post?) Eco-tourism will allow people from all over the world to come to KAZA and enjoy wildlife. Eco-tourism gives local people a reason to respect and appreciate the wildlife around them while also leading tourists on adventures that are conservation-friendly. Some of the money earned from eco-tourism goes toward funding conservation programs.
Eco-tourism gives local people the opportunity to share wildlife with tourists in an eco-friendly way. (Photo Credit: Peace Parks Foundation Facebook)
I’ve talked about habitat fragmentation in a few past posts. KAZA is making it easier for animals to relocate if a habitat they are living in becomes inhospitable. Creating such a large area of protected land means animals have more room to migrate across long distances or wander on a short adventure.
KAZA has opened up a huge area of land so wildlife can easily cross borders and roam freely. (Photo Credit: International Elephant Foundation)
Visit the KAZA website to learn more and find updates about what is going on at the world’s largest conservation area. Can’t make it to Africa for a conservation vacation? There are plenty of spots in Fort Worth that are great conservation vacation destinations.
Here are some ideas for a day trip you can take to help the environment around you:
- Visit the Fort Worth Zoo! There are animals from all around the world on exhibit at the Zoo. Take some time to read the signs outside each animal exhibit to learn more about the animal’s diet, behavior and conservation status.
- If you’re a plant-lover, visit the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). BRIT often has special programming on Saturdays, such as guided tours.
- Take a bike ride or walk along the Trinity Trail. Pick up trash along the way so the Trinity River remains a healthy ecosystem where plants and animals thrive.
- See wildlife, such as alligators and bison, in their native habitat at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge.
I’m enjoying a summer of adventures, and I hope you are, too! Don’t forget to send pictures of you and Sam on the Go to me at Sam’s Inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Until next time … happy exploring!
Acre: (noun) a unit of land measurement equal to 43,560 square feet
Conservation: (noun) the careful use of a natural resource so we can enjoy it now and have enough of it to enjoy in the future
Ecosystem: (noun) a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment
Eco-tourism: (noun) tourism designed to help protect wildlife or minimalize habitat alteration
Endangered species: (noun) a species at risk of extinction
Enforcement: (noun) the act of compelling people to be obedient to a rule
Habitat alteration: (noun) change that takes place in an animal’s living space caused by natural or human processes
Habitat fragmentation: (noun) a form of habitat alteration that results in areas of habitat being separated from one another
Inhospitable: (adjective) not offering shelter or livable conditions
Landscape: (noun) an expanse of scenery that can be seen in a single view
Management: (noun) the act of caring for and maintaining something
Migrate: (verb) to change location periodically, especially by moving seasonally from one region to another
Nature reserve: (noun) an area of land that is protected and managed in order to keep certain wildlife safe from poaching, habitat alteration, etc.
Poaching: (noun) the illegal practice of entering someone’s property to hunt or take animals without permission or without a license
Preservation: (noun) the caring of natural resources by setting them aside to avoid any further changes, consequently disrupting our ability to enjoy these resources
Species: (noun) a group of individuals having some common characteristics or qualities
Thrive: (verb) to prosper or be successful
Treaty: (noun) an official agreement between two or more parties