Beyond Fences

Ensuring a Sustainable Future for the People and Wildlife of Southern Africa

The Beyond Fences program promotes sectorally integrative land-use policy in southern Africa. In the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, a conservation and development initiative created by a 2011 treaty among five countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia) spanning an area the size of the northeastern U.S., the conservation of wildlife is often in conflict with livestock production. Infectious agents in wild animals, particularly foot and mouth disease (FMD) viruses, have made it difficult or impossible for beef farmers to enter the world market, due to restrictions based on livestock’s proximity to wildlife. However, the current solution—vast fencing to separate livestock and wildlife—interrupts wild animal migration pathways and endangers their survival—simultaneously threatening the region’s tourism-associated economic growth.

M. Atkinson/AHEAD

Our work has focused on the way beef is actually processed in order to keep products virus-free for international sale—an approach that does not completely depend on fences. With ongoing support, we envision a win-win situation for farmers and the environment. A new approach for processing beef so it cannot spread FMD is poised to facilitate access to beef markets for small-scale farmers living with wildlife, as well as unlock the long-term ecological and economic viability of the region’s vast transfrontier conservation areas by making disease control fencing less necessary. A new era underpinned by sustainable and diversified land use and livelihoods is within reach.

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