Mandela Uses Park Creation to Plead for Peace

PHALABORWA, South Africa, October 5, 2001 (ENS) - At the opening of an enormous new trinational conservation area in southern Africa, former President Nelson Mandela called on the people of the world to get rid of the scourge of terrorism. At a ceremony Thursday he used the newly named Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park as an example of lasting global peace.

Mandela

Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela (Photo courtesy African National Congress)
The 35,000 square kilometre park is a cross-border game reserve between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Formerly known as the Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Park, it was officially renamed by the ministers of environment of the three countries.

Mandela told an international gathering that the world could use the new park as an example of how to improve relations between nations.

South African Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Valli Moosa said, "These countries share a rich history. Our people have the same roots, we have the same river, the Limpopo, giving life to the plant and animal kingdoms in our countries."

An elephant translocation program is part of an environmental collaboration between the three southern African nations. It will include land adjacent to South Africa's Kruger National Park, other national parks, private game reserves, hunting concession areas and community managed natural resource areas.

There are 10,000 elephants in South Africa's Kruger Park, and 1,000 will be moved to the Mozambique side of the new park over the next 30 months. The first 40 elephants began their journey Thursday.

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Elephant in Kruger National Park (Photo courtesy Ministry of Environment and Tourism)
The 40 elephants, captured early on Thursday morning, were released into an enclosure to acclimatize. After a day of settling down, the gates will be opened and the elephants will be allowed to walk into their new range.

The elephants were captured by one of the world's top elephant capture teams, based at Skukuza, in the Kruger National Park. They will be governed by an international treaty which will be signed by the ministers of environment from the three countries.

In the last three weeks the world has had reports of strife and conflict in the United States of America, Mandela said. "We face the prospect of conflict on a world scale. The peace park's initiative is an example, though, of how to improve relations between nations."

Mandela said the park is part of Africa's success story. "The world can learn from us how to use our natural heritage to the benefit of all."

Telling the gathering, "this will truly be the world's greatest animal kingdom," Moosa formally handed the elephant herd over to Mozambican Minister of Tourism Fernando Sumbana.

The project is expected to generate important revenue from tourism when the park is opened to visitors.