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The Limpopo River Basin
Climate and Weather
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Ecology and Biodiversity
 Aquatic Ecology
 Biodiversity in the Basin
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Biodiversity Resources
 Human Impacts on Biodiversity
 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Sub-basin Summaries



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Biodiversity Resources  

The Limpopo River basin has one of the greatest proportions of protected areas in southern Africa (LBPTC 2010), including many national parks, nature conservancies and private game parks.  The region is a centre for wildlife-oriented tourism and eco-tourism in southern Africa, including some of the most established national parks in the world.  The eco-tourism benefits of biodiversity in this area is another example of Ecosystem Services, which are discussed in more depth in People and the River theme.

Click here to watch a short video from Limpopo-Lipadi Game and Wilderness Reserve, that discusses the importance of biodiversity and conservation to the region.  The video also provides an insight into the types of eco-tourism activities that are available in the game reserves and conservancy areas in the region.

While It has been established that the biodiversity of the Limpopo River basin is significant and worthy of protection and conservation, this fact is reflected nowhere better than the current and ongoing attempts to preserve and protect biodiversity and wildlife at a transboundary level.

Transfrontier Conservation Areas

Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) are areas of land already protected or acquired for protecting wildlife and biodiversity that straddle national borders.    The TFCA initiatives under way across the SADC region aim to integrate large protected areas that meet at national boundaries by removing fencing and other barriers to migration and establish co-management frameworks.  TFCAs depend on cooperation at five levels:

  • Political: Unique levels of international co-operation are required between the participating countries;
  • Regional: Regional bodies, such as SADC, NGOs and other integrating agencies, are key. 
  • Technical: Conservation agencies, private operators, administrative immigration, police, home affairs, customs, health, etc) must all work together.
  • Local communities: Consultation with local communities is important to establish good relations and a broad base of support for the initiative.
  • Financial: Support from national government is essential, as the above activities are expensive.  Further support from private investors is also sought to support TFCA development and sustainability.

Source: South Africa Department of International Relations and Cooperation (2004)

There are two TFCAs in the Limpopo River basin:

  1. Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park; and
  2. Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.

The map below shows the distribution of protected areas in the Limpopo River basin, including national conservation areas (national parks, conservancies, etc) and transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs).

Protected areas in the Limpopo River basin.
Source: Atlas 2003; Peace Parks 2009
( click to enlarge )

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

In 2002, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park was established by the governments of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe; integrating the land areas of Kruger National Park (South Africa), Limpopo National Park (Mozambique) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) (Great Limpopo Park 2010; Peace Parks 2010). The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park currently comprises 35 000 km², but is protected to be expanded up to 100 000 km² when it is complete. The expanded area will include Banhine and Zinvave National Parks in Mozambique, along with Massingir and Corumana areas and the land in between.

The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area

Formerly known as the Limpopo-Shashe Transfrontier Conservation Area, Greater Mapungubwe comprises land from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The land in Botswana is an aggregation of privately owned land from an association of land-owners known as Northern Tuli Game Reserve (NOTUGRE). Land in South Africa is a patchwork of land comprising private land, national parks and state land that is being augmented with additional land acquired for the purposes of creating the Mapungubwe National Park (SANParks 2010). These two areas, combined with the land in Zimbabwe, from the Tuli Circle Safari Area, creates a contiguous area of protected land totaling some 4 872 km² (Peace Parks 2010).

In addition to nature conservation, Greater Mapungubwe is home to significant cultural and historic resources, also protected under the TFCA agreement.

Sunset in the Limpopo River basin, South Africa.
Source: Heigan 2007
( click to enlarge )



Explore the sub-basins of the Limpopo River

Explore the interactions of living organisms in aquatic environments

Examine how the hydrologic cycle moves water through and around the earth

Tour video scenes along the Limpopo related to The River Basin Theme