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This peace park has been in de facto existence since 1948, thanks to an informal verbal agreement between the conservation authorities of the then Bechuanaland Protectorate and the Union of South Africa.

In June 1992 representatives from the South African National Parks Board (now SANParks) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Botswana set up a joint management committee to manage the area as a single ecological unit. This undertaking led to the drafting of a management plan, which was reviewed and approved by the two conservation agencies early in 1997. The plan provided a basis for cooperative tourism ventures and proposed the equal sharing of entrance fees by both countries. An integral feature of the agreement was that each country would provide and maintain its own tourism facilities and infrastructure, giving particular attention to developing and involving communities living adjacent to the park.

On 7 April 1999, Botswana and South Africa signed a historic bilateral agreement whereby both countries undertook to manage their adjacent national parks, the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa as a single ecological unit. The boundary between the two parks, which is also the international border between the two countries, had no physical barriers, thus allowing for the free movement of animals.

On 12 May 2000 southern Africa’s first peace park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, was formally launched by President Festus Mogae of Botswana and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.