Research project sheds light on what hides in Mozambique Greater Limpopo Area

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The Limpopo Transfrontier Carnivore Project published in july an article on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park website I find really exciting!


The Andersens are a couple of researchers focusing on predators within the Mozambican side of the tranfrontier park.



he initiative is part of the Limpopo Transfrontier Predator Project; a research initiative aimed at providing the information necessary to improve the conservation management of transboundary populations of cheetahs, lions and African wild dogs in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) spanning across Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“We were drawn to the GLTFCA because of its importance for the regional and global viability of large terrestrial predators including lion, cheetah and African wild dog and because there was a huge gap in knowledge on predator status and ecology for the Mozambican components.” While Kruger and Gonarezhou national parks host critically important protected populations; the Mozambican components offer large tracts of potential habitat. If occupied, the Mozambican components could increase the regional viability of predator species by increasing connectivity and providing for range and population expansion. Although much of the area is impacted by humans and livestock, years of political stability and the development of the transboundary conservation area provided the opportunity for recovery.


If they expected to see very few animals, they findings are far better than what they expected!!!




Contrary to expectations they documented an incredible diversity of wildlife species in the park, with the use of camera-traps. The 49 mammalian species above 3.0 kg snapped include bat-eared fox, aardwolf, African wild dog, serval, giraffe, zebra, roan, eland and sable.


If the Limpopo National Park is full of cattle and illegal settlers, they found a significant population of predators:



Using several different research techniques including call-ups, camera-traps and spoor surveys, the researchers determined that there are approximately 66 lions and 35 cheetahs in the Limpopo National Park. This is particularity encouraging as where there are predators there is prey and contrasts with the perception that there is little to no game within the Park. While the populations are small and are held below their ecological carrying capacity by human persecution, the fact that these predators were found was extremely positive, and demonstrated the importance of the region for wildlife conservation and the value of transboundary conservation areas.

The Limpopo Park is large and with resettlement and effective conservation management could make a considerable contribution to large predator and other wildlife species conservation. Due to its strategic location, it could very well be serving as a gateway to facilitate recolonization to other nearby protected areas including Banhine National Park, says Andresen.

On the other hand, results highlighted the need for a better understanding of transboundary population dynamics and corridor feasibility. “This led us to greatly expand our efforts, and take a landscape level approach to better understand large predator conservation biology.”



They also looked in the greater area of the tranfrontier park and have really nice findings from Bahine National Park!



Due to their efforts, 11 prides of lion were identified, and it has been determined that there are six packs of African wild dogs and approximately 60 cheetahs in the surveyed areas of the Mozambican GLTFCA. “We also found that leopard and spotted hyena occur widely within the national parks and conservancies.”

The most exciting finds have been two prides of lions, a pack of wild dogs and cheetahs in the largely forgotten Banhine National Park. The grasslands of Banhine were once renowned for their teeming herds of wildebeest, zebra and eland, which were sadly depleted during civil war. “That we found lion, cheetah, wild dog, leopard and spotted hyena in addition to elephant, buffalo, and healthy herds of impala and large flocks of ostrich is really promising because it shows that Banhine could be restored, given the correct conservation investment and action,” she says.

Genetic information will allow the researchers to determine whether these predators are a result of recent immigration or are pre-war relics. This information will feed into population viability analysis and will be used to provide informed recommendations on the conservation management and land-use requirements to ensure the growth and persistence of predator populations in the Mozambican GLTFCA.

“While most of the areas outside of the parks are highly degraded and impacted by livestock, we have found some areas that still host herds of impala, buffalo and even eland,” says Andresen. These areas may be able to serve as conservation corridors between the parks given informed management. Research results will inform land-use strategies to maintain or promote predator connectivity between protected areas in the GLTFCA.

However, it has not all been good news. Bushmeat poaching is serious problem in the Mozambican GLTFCA including within the national parks. “Over the past year we have documented 525 poaching events, removed 135 wire snares and discovered 196 butchered carcasses.”

“We have uncovered large scale commercial bushmeat poaching operations, both inside and outside of the national parks. These commercial poachers typically use guns, gin traps and large snare lines and are moving the meat out by donkey or bicycle to markets along the major roads. We provide our information to the appropriate authorities to assist them to manage these impacts.”

Bushmeat poaching effects predator populations in different ways, including the direct persecution of individuals caught in snares and indirectly through depletion of prey populations. “We have found that the depletion of prey by unregulated and indiscriminate hunting has resulted in several areas being devoid of wildlife even though the habitat appears intact.” This effect is known as the ‘empty forest syndrome’, which is particularly disturbing because many land use decisions are based on remote sensing data, which cannot recognize empty habitat.

This is one of the many reasons why this initiative is so important. “We need to identify available habitat for predators and corridors now, before these areas are degraded and lost.”



The website of the project is:

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Same projects alerts the Limpopo Park and the Mozambican authorities of a massive lion poaching catastrophe in Limpopo park.

It seems that after elephants and rhinos, wildlife traffic never ends in this country.


I am sometime impressed by some efforts for conservation in Mozambique, and sometimes very worried about news like these ones.

It seems that only tourism will help to reduce these ilegal traffics...



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a big mess

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