Zinave National Park, paradise in the making

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Zinave National Park has been a buzz of activity since 2016. In one of the biggest wildlife translocation operations between South Africa and Mozambique, animals started streaming in, and after three years of introductions, the park is showing a vast improvement.

The project is a result of the signing of a co-management agreement between the Mozambican National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and the Peace Parks Foundation, to develop Zinave as an integral component of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. It is part of a much bigger plan tore-establish vital wildlife corridors and migratory routes between protected areas in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In addition, infrastructure has been redeveloped, staff capacity has improved, communities have grown and counter-poaching initiatives have been implemented. Zinave project manager Bernard van Lente says the Peace Parks Foundation and ANAC are committed to developing the surrounding communities and taking the reserve forward.Together, they have already made progress.

Image by Peace Parks Foundation

Protecting wildlife in a Mozambican paradise 

The safety of the animals is a major priority. Zinave’s anti-poaching teams have achieved significant success in halting all commercial poaching and logging in the park. They have removed more than 3 500 snares and traps, and confiscated over 150 shotguns from communities in and around the park. “The team has established functional and effective protection structures. A well-trained, equipped and motivated ranger corps is backed by newly implemented or upgraded infrastructure, such as a control room with state-of-the-art security systems,” says Van Lente. With game being reintroduced, the ecosystem is slowly changing. “Although it has not been quantified, it is noticeable how many more insects, small mammals and birds there are, particularly over the last year,” explains Van Lente.

Wildlife re-introductions replenishing Zinave National Park 

Several large game translocation operations took place this past year, including 500 animals from the Kruger National Park. In what is dubbed one of the largest ever elephant translocations to take place from South Africa, De Beers Group will be moving 200 elephants to Mozambique from its Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve (VLNR) over the coming years. Of these, 48 already roam Zinave.

It is noticeable how many more insects, small mammals and birds there are, particularly in the last year

Matt Crabb, senior manager of Group Brand Communications at De Beers Group says it is a privilege to be part of the operation. “We had around 270 elephants on the VLNR, with a carrying capacity of between 40 and 60 elephants. The perfect solution was therefore taking the excess animals to an area where they once thrived, but disappeared primarily due to war.”

Image by Peace Parks Foundation

Community benefiting from protected area 

The development of Zinave now allows for intensified engagement with the community adjacent to, and inside the park. Apart from the work created through the park, the project has also provided an opportunity for baseline studies to determine the needs of the local communities. This includes water provision and establishing conservation and agriculture projects in select settlements.

These efforts will then create the foundation to develop tourism. Zinave is home to an exceptional variety and sizes of subtropical savanna trees, large rivers and seasonal pans. For now, the park only offers rustic campsites and a 4×4 is required for access. Van Lente is extremely enthusiastic about being part of the transformation: “To be part of building something special, which can make a difference, and to see it happen, is hugely satisfying.”

Image by Peace Parks Foundation

About Zinave National Park 

  • 1972: Zinave was declared a protected area, five years before the civil war.
  • 16: The number of years the civil war raged
  • 2015: Peace Parks Foundation signed a co-management agreement to develop Zinave with Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas.
  • 408 000ha: The size of Zinave in the Inhambane district of Mozambique.
  • 1 763: The total number of game reintroduced since 2016. This includes 110 elephant, 342 impala, 153 wildebeest, 85 zebra, 250 buffalo, 54 warthog, 147 reedbuck and 622 waterbuck.

Written by René de Klerk 

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