Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area

KAZA TFCA office-Sesheke Zambia (supported by WWF Netherlands and WWF Germany)
Darter Chobe and Zambezi Rivers
Impalas, Chobe National Park
Infrastructure development (Sioma Ngwezi HQ)
African Fish Eagle, Chobe River
KAZA TFCA Landscapes
Ngonye Falls, Visitor’s Center, Zambia (Supported by DGIS and PPF)
Traditional Dancers, Namibia
Chili Production HWC, Namibia
Traditional Dancers, Botswana
African Elephant, Chobe River, Botswana
Hippopotamus, Chobe River, Botswana
Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, Zimbabwe
Chobe River Sunset

Indigenous Knowledge

The KAZA TFCA encompasses a wealth and richness of ethnic communities ranging from the Hambakushu and Basubiya of Namibia’s Caprivi region and North West Botswana, through the Lozi, Luvale, Luyana, Mashi, Mwela and Nkoya groups in south western Zambia, the BaTonga, Subiya, Leya, Toka, Lozi, Kololo, Ndebele and Totela from north Western Zimbabwe as well as the Basubiya, Batawana and Basarwa of the Chobe-Kazangula area of northern Botswana.

Each of these communities and their ancestors has lived in these areas for millennia, living off the land and its natural resources. Over the ages these communities have learned about the use, preparation and application of the various natural resources in their localities as food sources, medicines, fabrics, construction material and also in the manufacture of equipment, utensils and transport.

This indigenous knowledge, often obtained through trial and error has become the intellectual property of the users and producers and is often unique to certain ethnic groups or even specific communities.

Many of the communities in the KAZA TFCA rely heavily on their local natural resources, using their indigenous or traditional knowledge to optimize the productivity of the resource such as knowing when to harvest to get optimal yields or quality.

This indigenous knowledge is not merely confined to the use of natural resources, but also to the actual management of the resources, ensuring that enough base-resource exists to regenerate in successive seasons.

The harvesting of natural plant products within the SADC region is worth at least US$250 million per year, and the sustainable exploitation of these resources within appropriate areas in TFCAs within SADC is an additional leading source of income. The value of the use and beneficiation of natural resources within KAZA TFCA has yet to be calculated, but is understood to be a significant amount given the regional estimate and the value of medicinal plants in South Africa (estimated annual income of US$34 million from approximately 20 000 tonnes).

However increasing poverty across the region and declining productivity levels from agriculture are resulting in rural communities relying more heavily upon their natural resources, placing great strain on the sustainability of usage levels. The commercialization of certain harvested natural resources has also resulted in competition for access to the use of some resources, forcing people to over-harvest - ignoring traditional mechanisms of managing natural resources sustainably.

Many people living inside TFCAs have ready access to indigenous fruits, fibres for local crafts, and plants for traditional medicines. Associated with this availability is a substantial knowledge and skills base in the use and manufacture of these natural products, a comparative advantage over more modern forms of agricultural production. Using wildlife resources (both plant and animal) to benefit human populations at the same time removes incentives to develop the land for arable purposes or livestock herds, thus benefiting biodiversity conservation. With widespread poverty throughout many parts of Africa, socio-economic development is an important objective for the establishment of the TFCA.


Mander, M., Ntuli, L., Diederichs, N. & Mavundla, K. 2007. Economics of the traditional medicine trade in South Africa. Sabinet, RSA. www.sabinet.co.za