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This paper brings together a wide range of concepts from climate change predictions, palaeoecology, wildlife ecology and sustainable livelihoods in order to prioritise adaptive management measures that are necessary for the conservation of the African megafauna. Climate change predictions emphasise the severe aridity that will surge into southern Africa later this century and must be contrasted with the relatively wetter conditions in eastern Africa. The evolution of African mammals and their adaptive responses to past episodes of climate change is explained by reference to range shifts and movements along Balinsky’s (1962) ‘drought corridor’ that extends from SW Africa northeastwards to Somalia and then westwards across the Saharan-Sahelian zone. The drought corridor today could potentially extend from Kenya southwestward through to Botswana/South Africa and Namibia, via connectivity corridors linking existing wildlife areas, forming the Kalahari-Rift Valley Transfrontier Conservation Landscape (KALARIVA TFCL). The most promising route along the drought corridor links the Chobe – Linyanti – Kwando river systems of Botswana/Namibia with Luangwa Valley in Northern Zambia, along the Zambezi River via Lake Kariba (Matsudonna and Mana Pools) in Zimbabwe. Malawi poses an absolute barrier to such connectivity and by the turn of this Century runs the risk of confining the area to the south almost entirely to the SW arid adapted fauna and that to the north to water dependent ungulates such as elephants, buffalo and zebra. The key movement corridors are identified in a bid to extend the spatial and temporal scale of conservation planning in order to adapt effectively to climate change. The importance of ‘co-existence’ between wildlife and people is emphasised together with the need for local communities to benefit from sharing the KALARIVA TFCL with African wildlife, via new models of conservation financing and management that reward rural African communities for being the true custodians of the African megafauna.
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