Great Limpopo Peace Park began with a meeting between President
Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and the president of the World
Wide Fund For Nature (South Africa) in 1990. Feasibility studies
initiated by the World Bank culminated in a pilot project that
was launched with Global Environment Facility funding in 1996.
On 10 November 2000, a trilateral agreement was signed by Minister
Helder Muteia (Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in
Mozambique), Minister Valli Moosa (Minister of Environmental Affairs
and Tourism in South Africa), and Minister Francesco Nhema (Minister
of Environment and Tourism in Zimbabwe). This agreement signalled
the three nations intent to establish and develop a transfrontier
park and surrounding conservation area.
On 9 December 2002, the heads of state of Mozambique, South Africa
and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty at Xai-Xai, Mozambique
to establish the Great Limpopo Peace Park.
The Great Limpopo Peace Park links the Limpopo National Park in
Mozambique, Kruger Natioinal Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou
National Park, Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati Safari Area
in Zimbabwe, as well as two areas between Kruger and Gonarezhou,
namely the Wngwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Jumbo region
in South Africa. The total surface area of this Peace Park will
be approximately 35.000 km2.
The four main landscapes in the Great Limpopo Peace Park include
lowland plains savannah in the majority of the area, a somewhat
hilly granite plateau in the western portions, the Lebombo mountains
that rise to an average of only 500 m above sea level, and the
floodplain riverbank areas along the Save, Changane, Limpopo,
Olifants and Komati rivers.
The vast numbers of wildlife and plant species found here are
the building blocks of successful eco-tourism. These include at
least 147 mammals, 116 reptiles, 49 species of fish, 34 different
species of frogs, and an incredible 500 or more species of birds.
In addition, at least 2000 species of plants have been identified.
Stone-age artifacts and more recent Iron-age tools at many sites
provide evidence of a very long and almost continuous presence
of humans in the area making up the Great Limpopo Peace Parks.
Early inhabitants were San hunter-gatherers who left numerous
rock-paintings scattered across the region, while Bantu people
entered about 800 years ago, eventually displacing the San.
The arid nature of the environment, together with an abundance
of predators and diseases (e.g. malaria) would have played a role
in preventing large-scale human population growth and settlement.
Nevertheless, sophisticated cultures already existed by the 16th
century, evident by the Thulamela and other ruins near Parufi.