This article explores the early history of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). In 1927, a year after the Kruger National Park was created, authorities from the Union of South Africa approached their Portuguese counterparts to request that a similar reservation be created on the Mozambican side of the border contiguous to Kruger. Similar requests were made to and by Southern Rhodesian authorities. This article describes the tensions and conflicts surrounding these early proposals for transboundary conservation, highlighting differences in perceptions of the benefits and risks associated with transfrontier projects, and continuities with the conflicts characterising the GLTP today. In Southern Rhodesia, the plans were embraced by businessmen as a wildlife-based tourism initiative and conservation was justified through its revenue-generating potential. Yet influential players in Rhodesia and Mozambique undermined the proposals as they felt the plan was a risky gamble that could jeopardise cattle ranching. Fears of cattle disease spreading through the transboundary wilderness area put a stop to the initiative, until its revival in the late 1990s. The demise of the early plans was also influenced by Portuguese colonial authorities' interpretation of transboundary conservation as a guise for South African territorial expansion. © 2009 The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies.