Gorongosa National Park is a fertile oasis in central Mozambique, rich with diverse wildlife and spectacular scenery. Growing in popularity among ecotourists, visitors to the park can observe oribi, waterbuck, zebra, hippos and elephants in a place that is truly “Africa’s Lost Eden.”
Currently, several Gorongosa National Park restoration projects are underway to promote the preservation of endangered habitat and species. One of the primary focuses is on Mount Gorongosa, a critical territory and water source for the park’s ecosystems and animals. Over 400 wildlife species – including rare birds like the Green-headed Oriole and Moustached Warbler – call this endangered park their home. Illegal slash-and-burn farming is devastating the delicate environment of Mount Gorongosa. It is estimated that this oxygen-producing forest – once unspoiled by humans – may be completely gone by 2011. Conservationists are working to plant trees and identify the individuals deforesting the protected mountain.
In addition to the deforestation of Mount Gorongosa, a number of wildlife populations in the park are disappearing (and some of the species found within Gorongosa National Park exist nowhere else in the world). Civil war, wildlife poaching and habitat loss all directly affect the animals living within Gorongosa National Park. For example, large mammal numbers dropped as much as 95% during the war-plagued late 20th century. Because of this fact, park conservationists are monitoring species and reintroducing animals from outside areas to help improve local numbers.
Over the last several years, a triad of bulk grazers have been brought into the Rift Valley – zebras, wildebeest and buffalos – to improve grazing habitat through healthy herbivore groups. Furthermore, the grazers’ reintroduction is having a direct positive impact on the carnivorous animals living within the park (such as lions), helping them rebuild their species as well. Soon, conservationists will bring in groups of antelope (primarily impala, elands and kudus), hippo, tsessebes and black and white rhinos in an effort to improve park populations. A few species are frequently observed through aerial surveys – like hyenas, leopards, lions and wild dogs – to keep a close eye on the existing groups. And some animals are doing well on their own – bushbucks, reedbucks, warthogs and sables antelopes are recovering to robust numbers by their own accord. Gorongosa National Park veterinarians also study wildlife to help prevent potential disease outbreaks among the animals.
Another major focus of the park is on developing ecotourism. This quickly-growing, environmentally-friendly industry supplies funds that pay for the management and preservation of the park and supports local businesses, villages, health clinics and schools. In 2009, Mozambique earned $195 million dollars from tourism – more than 1.5 million people travel to this southeast African nation annually. Ecotourists can tour the Park on a wildlife safari, bird watch varied avian species, hike Mount Gorongosa, swim in the Murombodzi Waterfall, sleep in a Chitengo Safari Camp bungalow and photograph zebras in their natural habitat, all while helping restore Gorongosa National Park and support local villagers.
Conservationists hope to preserve all aspects of this critical southeast African oasis by boosting ecotourism, creating an anti-poaching team, rebuilding park infrastructure, educating Mozambicans as guides, surveying native wildlife populations and generating environmentally-friendly local business. Get more facts about restoration projects here and check out photos and videos of Gorongosa National Park at this link.
Be sure to watch Africa’s Lost Eden tonight, April 15 at 9P et/pt to learn all about the different ecosystems and animals living within beautiful Gorongosa National Park.