inyathi

First Elephants Translocated to Zinave NP in Mozambique

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While looking for other information on the web I came across this report on the translocation of seven elephants from South Africa to Zinave NP in Mozambique.

 

First Elephant Translocated to Zinave National Park, Mozambique

 

Zinave NP is north-east of Kruger NP and directly east of Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe it doesn’t actually adjoin either of these two parks but with them it is along with Banhine NP and Limpopo NP part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. During Mozambique’s civil war it seems that almost all of the large game was wiped out in Zinave so it’s great to see that animals are now being reintroduced. Already zebra, wildebeest and giraffes have been brought in from Kruger in 2012 and 13 and the plan is to move more animals to Zinave in the future from Kruger and also some from Gorongosa NP further north. In Gorongosa some of the animals that survived the war and didn’t need restocking like common waterbuck are now extremely common so the park is a good source for these animals to restock Zinave. All of the animals are initially being released into a fenced sanctuary. Zinave should be able to provide a home for 2000 elephants so I have no doubt that plenty more elephants will be moved to the park in time.

 

With so much depressing news about wildlife being reported it’s great to see so positive news for a change

 

Here’s another interesting article on the park

 

Finding refuge: The untapped potential of Mozambique's Banhine and Zinave

 

Unfortunately it seems that re-establishing a wildlife corridor between Zinave and Gonarezhou may prove difficult but it would be good if some way could be found to allow animals to move around between parks as they did in the past.

 

Remarkably surveys of wildlife in Limpopo and Banhine NPs found

 

In Banhine National Park lion, cheetah, wild dog, leopard and spotted hyena were found by the researchers, in addition to elephant, buffalo, and healthy herds of impala and large flocks of ostrich.

 

 

WILDLIFE DIVERSITY IN LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK

 

Click on the map in the article on the Peace Parks Foundation website to see the location of these parks.

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Thanks, I also find this article but I did not find time to post it on the forum.

Plans seem good, but I am wondering if the Mozambicans will allow sufficient anti poaching resources on the ground to protect these parks.

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the move is questionable to say the least

 

Mozambique is poachers paradise

 

So the poaching of Niassa reserve was organized by the groups active in selous reserve Tanzania

 

this move is just a new opportunity for them to make a mess of another area

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@@jeremie

 

@@COSMIC RHINO I understand your point of view and certainly share some of your concerns, but I think in this case you are being overly pessimistic I certainly hope so.

 

When I wrote my original post I couldn’t help thinking about the appalling situation in the Niassa Reserve where elephants are being slaughtered in large numbers not least because one of the Mozambican papers that had articles on Zinave also had several on the poaching in Niassa. One article stated that in 9 months 170 elephants had been killed, what’s happening in Niassa is an extension of the situation over the border in the Selous GR in Tanzania. The ivory taken from the reserve is ferried across the Rovuma River into Tanzania and joins the same smuggling route as local Tanzanian ivory. Zinave is a very long way away from Niassa and there were no elephants at all left in the park so it’ s not an obvious target for poachers, of course once a reasonable number of elephants have been moved to the park then it obviously could become a target for poachers. However given that translocating elephants a significant distance is not cheap I would hope that they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t believe that the elephants would be properly protected. Initially while they are kept in the fenced sanctuary they should be fairly safe the question is what happens when they eventually leave the sanctuary.

 

I think that restoring elephants and other wildlife to a park like Zinave is vitally important to ensure that it maintains its raison d’être as it were, if the big animals that the park was created to protect are gone and if perhaps lots of illegal settlers have moved in then there may be pressure to de-gazette some or all of the park. Putting the wildlife back should help ensure that Zinave is protected if this restocking were not being done I fear the park could be lost all together. Without the big game there’s no reason for tourists to visit Zinave NP I wouldn’t think there are any birds there that can't be seen far more easily elsewhere in the region, I would assume that currently the only tourists are a few curious self drivers from South Africa. Restoring the large mammal population will put Zinave on the tourist map attracting more visitors to the park. Anything that increases the amount of photographic wildlife tourism in Mozambique has to be good thing at the moment there’s plenty of hunting but not much photo tourism. In Niassa they decided to prioritise hunting over photo tourism, so most of the reserve is hunting concessions, Niassa is very remote and not easy or cheap to get to and wildlife densities have always been naturally quite low because the reserve is predominantly miombo woodland, wildlife viewing will never be that easy, so using the area mainly for hunting does make sense. It is however a shame that there isn’t more photo tourism in Niassa as it is an exceptionally beautiful place, Zinave should be much easier to get to and should have much greater wildlife viewing potential once wildlife numbers have built up, it shouldn’t therefore be too difficult to attract photo tourists to the park. One of the ideas mentioned on the Peace Parks website is too establish a 4x4 route for self drivers that would take in all of these parks this would then bring more self drivers from SA and perhaps even a few from Zim to Zinave. Certainly plenty of self drivers visit parks like Mana Pools and Gonarezhou in Zim, they would readily visit Zinave if the park was worth visiting, unlike Niassa it is not too far to go. Establishing a successful wildlife tourist industry will hopefully help to persuade the government to take the issue of wildlife conservation much more seriously benefiting the wildlife of Mozambique and perhaps also that of Kruger if they can stop the cross border poaching.

 

On balance I’m optimistic about the future of Zinave (and Banhine) and I think that yes there is the risk that the elephants could be poached in the future, but that is a risk that has to be taken. In my view improvements in anti-poaching and wildlife conservation generally in Mozambique will go hand in hand with tourism development, people aren’t going to invest lots of money in setting up tourist accommodation in parks like Zinave unless they’re confident that the park has a future as a tourist destination and that will depend on ensuring that poaching is kept under control. The animals that are being restocked were entirely wiped out in Zinave either during or after the civil war, depending on how many animals they bring it will take time for the numbers to build up enough for Zinave to become a worthwhile safari destination and that will obviously depend on keeping the animals safe.

 

According the following Mozambican article a lot of money is being invested in Zinave

 

US$5 million tourist complex for Zinave National Park

 

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@Inyathi this is wonderful news because finally the Mozambican government is beginning to take wildlife tourism seriously. I know that there was a good lodge in Gorongosa National Park which closed; the one that there is now in Gorongosa isn't supposed to be very good. Do you have any news?

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it would be great if the mozambiqueab govt started to treat wildlife seriously

 

if things are going to change, this scheme is worthwhile giving it a go

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Posted (edited)

@@optig I’ve followed the story of Gorongosa’s restoration for sometime but not so much recently and I hadn’t kept up to date with tourism developments in the park. I knew that the Explore Gorongosa camp had closed and was I think vaguely aware that Chitengo Lodge had been taken over by Girasol but that was really the limit of my knowledge. Back in 2013 the civil war that everybody thought was long over, looked like it had resumed when the opposition Renamo decided to return to their old base on Mt Gorongosa and a certain amount of fighting erupted. At the time the UK’s FCO advised against all travel to the area, that’s no longer the case now despite the fact that their website suggest that occasional fighting is still going on. This situation has undoubtedly deterred people from wanting to get in involved in tourism in Gorongosa and is what led Explore Gorongosa to shut up shop. Expert Africa on their website says the following about Gorongosa

 

 

Due to localised political skirmishes that erupted in the region in late 2013, the only good operation in the area decided to close. As a result we cannot currently offer any trips to this area. Call and ask us for the latest details.

 

 

The only good operation in the area that they are referring to was Explore Gorongosa, they have a photo on their website of somewhere called Kubatana Camp which they say is due to open in 2014 that rather suggests that they haven’t updated the information on their website. Searching the web for info on Kubatana didn't really get me anywhere, so I thought I should have a look at the Africa Travel Resource website and they say that Kubatana was due to open in 2013/14 but this has been delayed indefinitely, I can only assume that this was also because of the unrest. ATR doesn't really say anything about Chitengo other than

this is the main parks authority facility within the reserve and a rather simple offering.

 

Clearly Chitengo is the only option at present and obviously Expert Africa doesn’t think that Chitengo is good enough to send their clients there. I hope that the in the near future maybe things will change as far as tourism is concerned in Gorongosa but at the moment my guess is that the fighting in the area really messed up tourist operations in the park other than at Chitengo. I had hoped that this new conflict was over since it hasn't been reported in the news over here at all, but as far as I can see from a quick web search there is still fighting going on and the conflict is far from resolved. I hope that enough people remember the horrors of the previous civil war that they won't allow the current situation excalate too far.

 

Despite the conflict the security situation in the park is clearly pretty good at least as far as elephants are concerned the following travel article from 2015 states that they only lost two elephants to poaching during the previous year.

 

On safari in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park: 'The most diverse park in the world'

 

Other animals are still being lost to meat poachers but not enough to stop their numbers from continuing to grow. Gorongosa does in fact have the highest waterbuck population of any park in Africa so it is the perfect place to source common waterbuck for Zinave. While these antelopes and some other species are now extremely common in Gorongosa numbers of some of the restocked species are still relatively low and these animals were until recently confined to the fenced sanctuary that was off limits to tourists. On a safari to Gorongosa you could certainly expect to see plenty of animals, but not a huge variety of species and not the number of species that you would see in parks and reserves in neighbouring countries. However I understand that the new animals that were released into the sanctuary and existing animals that ended up being fenced in have bred so well that the sanctuary has been dismantled giving them the freedom of the entire park. The population of zebras however is still very small when the restoration project started only a tiny handful of plains zebras survived in the park these animals were found to be of the Crawshay’s subspecies Equus quagga crawshayi. Rather than take the easy options and bring in Burchell’s zebras E. q .burchelli from South Africa let the Crawshay’s zebras disappear the decision was taken to preserve them and try to source zebras of this subspecies for reintroduction but this has proved difficult. In 2013 some were brought in from a Mozambican hunting area. It’s seems that the plan having removed the fences from the original sanctuary is to build a new smaller one which will be used specifically to breed zebras to try and get the numbers up. And then in future roan antelopes and tsessebes both entirely extinct in the park may be reintroduced into the new sanctuary. For reasons that I think are still not fully understood the lion population is still very small this is a surprising given the significant increase in ungulate numbers .

 

It will be a while before populations of all of the animal species match or exceed pre-civil war levels although some like obviously the waterbuck and even sable already have done so, but it should at least now be possible to see most of the common large mammals you would see on safari in say Zimbabwe. With the exception of giraffes which are naturally absent from this region of Africa. As long as violence doesn’t flare up again, I think that as the game viewing improves because of the increased variety of animals that it’s possible to see, visitor numbers will increase leading to further tourist developments. Certainly Expert Africa on their website say

It is still early days and game viewing in Gorongosa currently lacks diversity

 

that might not necessarily be entirely true since the fences have been taken down removing the sanctuary and if they are not sending clients there and there's still unrest/fighting in the area I wonder when anyone from EA last visited the park and therefore how up to date there information is. The impression they give is that Gorongosa is a great place to go for a wilderness experience but it’s still a few years away from being the great game viewing destination that it once was it and will one day become again. The trouble is that to really enjoy a great wilderness experience in my view you want to be staying in simple but high quality camps not a slightly substandard lodge. I suspect a lot of people looking at EA’s website reading what they say about Gorongosa, unless they are desperate to go there will think perhaps I should look at Zim or Botswana or Tanzania instead especially if they're aware that there is fighting going on in country.

 

Expert Africa Gorongosa

 

I’m still pretty optimistic about the future of Gorongosa but I think that new tourist operations in the park will only come about once peace is fully restored, nobody is going to want to set up a new tourist camp if at any moment they have to shut down because of violence as Explore Gorongosa had to and this must be why Kubatanda has never opened, a very sad situation. All of the trouble as far as I know has been in central Mozambique in Manica, Sofala, Tete and Zambezia I hope it won't affect Zinave which is over the border from Manica mainly in Inhambane. I'm not entirely sure but I don't think there's a lot of support for Renamo outside of the four central provinces. If the violence does escalate I doubt it will spread to the rest of the country and this time Renamo doesn't have any outside support, I think all the neighbours support the Frelimo government and don't want to see another full scale civil war. However that's just my impression I don't really know enought about the situation since it's not being reported internationally.

Edited by inyathi
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@@inyathi

 

As far as I know, the story of Explore Gorongosa (where I stayed in 2011) is partially different from what you describe.

 

In fact, Explore Gorongosa did not shut down due to the unrest in the area, but well before it, due to some business issues between the partners in the venture, which led to the venture either losing or not re-applying for the relevant concession. Then Asilia Africa stepped in, and was awarded the Msicadzi concession, with plans to open the Kubatana Camp you mentioned.

 

The scheduled day for opening got postponed several times (as it often happens) and then halted indefinitely when the turmoil began. Apparently, Asilia told Gorongosa N.P. That they might re-visit plans only if and when the general political/security situation) would completely clear up.

 

As to the Park, it was a totally worthwhile destination to visit in 2011 when I was there - with an amazing density of small and medium-sized antelopes like I have rarely if ever seen in other parts of Africa - and from the game counts and other sources I reckon wildlife viewing has further significantly improved since then.

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@@Paolo as I know you said that the best National Parks where you had been for night drives were Gorongosa and Zakouma. I only hope that eventually I can visit Gorongosa in combination with Zinave or Bahnine. Of course it would make a good combination with Zambia, Botswana or Zimbabwe.

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@@Paolo Thanks I didn’t really know what the reason for their closure was but the information on the EA website and elsewhere online suggested it was due to the unrest, so I assumed that was the case, it’s interesting that that wasn’t the reason.

 

I think for anyone who’s already seen quite a bit of Africa Gorongosa in its current state is well worth visiting I wouldn’t be put off at all by what Expert Africa say about the lack of diversity. I think the real problem with Gorongosa for EA and other similar travel agents has nothing to do with the quality of the game viewing and everything to do with the current lack of quality accommodation. I suspect that EA in common with other what I would consider upmarket travel agents have a certain standard when it comes to accommodation below which they are reluctant to go. If they are being perhaps a little too dismissive of Gorongosa it’s because they don’t really want to send people there at present because Chitengo just isn’t good enough. I doubt they’re inundated with enquiries about Mozambican safaris and with the unrest and uncertain political situation there’s little point in promoting Gorongosa as a safari destination. Mind you as the unrest isn't really being reported internationally many safari goers might not even be aware that there's trouble in Mozambique.

 

Not really knowing for sure what the situation in Gorongosa or Mozambique is, when I was typing my last post I’d write something and then think I’d better just check online to see if I’ve got that right and have to rewrite it when I found I hadn’t. The one thing I didn’t check but should have done is my emails. I’m on the Gorongosa mailing list and as is typically the way with these things their December 16 newsletter arrived yesterday but I wasn’t aware of this so I hadn’t read it before I wrote my last post. Otherwise I could have given a more positive answer, I won’t reproduce all of it but here are a few paragraphs give one cause to be optimistic about both the future of the wildlife and tourism in the park

 

In addition, several sets of lion cubs have also been born in the last few months. Lions are critically endangered throughout the world, and every individual counts. A potent symbol of the Park, their arrival is a heartening portent for the future of the Park as a Lion stronghold. We are proud of the tireless work by the Lion Project team, Law Enforcement and the Conservation Department in protecting these newcomers.

 

 

 

Finally, in October, the second aerial wildlife count of the Park, conducted by Dr. Marc Stalmans, Director of Scientific Services and Dr. Mike Peel of the Agricultural Research Council, concluded that wildlife is continuing to recover. Despite the recent drought years and the pressures of illegal hunting, the numbers of elephants, buffalo, impala, kudu and nyala are up. It's an encouraging trend.

 

 

I don’t how many buffalos survived the war not many I think because they were one of the main species that was restocked and as one of the park’s most important large grazers it’s very good to know that they are increasing. Seeing a huge herd of buffalos on safari whether in Hwange, Katavi, Ruaha, Zakouma or wherever is always a spectacular sight, I hope that Gorongosa’s buffalos will keep increasing to point that visitors will be able to see good sized herds out on the floodplains and that it won't be too long before their numbers are comparable those in these other parks.

 

In addition to the Park's existing facilities and activities, 2017 will see a new tourism initiative within the park. The Gorongosa Collection is planning the creation of a number of exciting luxury safari operations.

Muzimu Tented Camp will be the first of the tented camps, located on the banks of the Mussicadzi River, and will be operational late 2017.

 

 

Maybe things are looking up on the tourism front after all, once this new camp is open then I’m sure there will be renewed interest from travel agents, as long as the political situation doesn’t derail things. I'm not quite sure what the opening of this new Muzimu Tented Camp means with regard to Kubatana Camp and Asilia. Here's a link to the Gorongosa Collection website.

 

Gorongosa Collection Muzimu Tented Camp

 

I don’t actually think there’s any likelihood that there will be a return to civil war in Mozambique, I think Renamo is simply causing trouble as a way of flexing its muscles and saying to the government and the outside world we’re still here. They feel that they didn’t really get what they wanted out of the peace deal when the original civil war ended and that they have been cheated in subsequent in their view fraudulent elections. The violence all about sending a message; if we don’t get what we want then we’ll attack a train or bus carrying soldiers. As far as I know they haven’t killed many if any people at least in these recent attacks, they don’t actually really want to restart a war that they can’t hope to win. So I don’t think that the violence will seriously escalate and spread, but I do think Afonso Dhlakama is playing a very dangerous game, there may not be a return to full scale civil war as there was in Angola but the war there only came to a complete end when the UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot dead in an ambush. I’m sure there are people in Mozambique who think that killing Dhlakama would make all of this trouble go away, he has claimed that they are trying to assassinate him and I wouldn’t be too surprised if they were. If the peace negotiations don’t get anywhere then I’m sure a few members of the Frelimo government might decide that getting rid of Dhlakama would be the best solution and that maybe Renamo would then fade away. I hope both sides can be made to see sense before it comes to that even if it might solve the problem. The best answer would probably be for Dhlakama to retire and go into exile somewhere and for Renamo to choose a new leader Mozambique needs a strong opposition party but one that isn’t going to keep threatening a return to war if they don’t get their way.

 

As I said I don’t really know enough about the situation apparently in the disputed 2014 election Renamo claim to have won the most votes in 6 provinces so although the unrest seems to be confined to the four central provinces I mentioned earlier, maybe they do have significant support in two further provinces.

 

Mozambique Christmas Truce Fuels Hopes of Peace

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In the continuation of the slow restocking of Zinave NP from Kruger park in Souther Africa, moves are ongoing to translocate 6000 animals donated by the Sango conservancy (Zimbabwe), including 50 elephants.

 

The point is that this conservancy is a hunting conservancy presenting amazing results for wildlife management. Thus, this massive donation (the animals donated are worth millions of USD) shows the commitment of trophy hunting areas to conservacion.

 

Considering Sango quota is fixed around 200 trophies per year (representing only 0,1% of the wildlife population inside the conservancy), this donation would represent 30 years of trophies...

 

Hope this might change the minds of those that think that hunting should be definitely banned...

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2017/jun/19/rewilding-mozambique-trophy-hunting-elephants-giraffe-poaching-zimbabwe-sango-save-zinave?CMP=share_btn_fb

 

Zinave recovery is planned by the Peace Parks Foundation, which aims to connect diferent protected areas in the Great Limpopo landscape shared between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. They are working in protecting Limpopo NP, and restocking Zinave and later on Bahine protected areas. 

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Better late than never, the press release was published on the Peace Parks website:

http://www.peaceparks.org/news.php?pid=1696&mid=1751&lid=1005

 

It is true that rhino poaching principally from Mozambique striking Kruger National Park is a huge issue, but when I see project such as this one or the Maputo restocking project, I am happy to see that ANAC and partners are collaborating to recover vast areas of wilderness.

 

Someone interested to visit Zinave in the folowing years?

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@jeremie I think this is fantastic news, being able to move so many animals to the park in short period of time will kickstart tourism in Zinave much faster than would have been the case otherwise, it might still be a little while before game viewing can really compare to parks in neighbouring countries. However it should mean that in the next few years once they are able to release animals from the sanctuary visitors will be able to see a decent amount of wildlife in the park. Zinave will become somewhere worth visiting to see the big game and not just somewhere to go out of curiosity because you want a bit of adventure and have done Kruger and other South African or Zimbabwean parks. Zinave also has the great advantage of being close to the Mozambican coast, it’s really not at all far from Zinave to the Bazaruto Archipelago a marine national park which should soon be joining the portfolio of parks managed by the African Parks Network. Depending on the state of the roads I would guess it shouldn’t be more than a few hours’ drive to get from Zinave to the coast or vice versa, this should mean that if you are staying at the coast you could leave after breakfast and get to your camp in Zinave in time for lunch, or leave after lunch and be there for dinner.  Or you could of course fly and get there even quicker, either you could have the perfect combination of beach and bush if you’re keen on diving and or snorkelling or just relaxing. I assume that quite a few tourists already visit Bazaruto and the neighbouring coast and I’ve no doubt when it becomes easy to do so they will happily visit Zinave at the same time. Once a reasonable number of people have been and have reported back that they had a great time in Zinave and saw plenty of animals then the park will really be back on the map. In time I’ve no doubt the focus will then shift to restocking the larger Banhine NP if these animals thrive in Zinave they will then provide a source of animals for Banhine.

 

Here’s a map of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area showing the different national parks (+Malapati Safari Area).  

 

Untitled-1.thumb.jpg.e687c261604c09a108abafcc3a126593.jpg

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