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Massingir, 22 Jan 2013 – Former Mozambican president and Peace Parks Foundation board member, Mr Joaquim Chissano, visited Limpopo National Park (LNP) on a fact-finding mission, primarily intended to obtain a better understanding of the park’s voluntary resettlement programme and the poaching challenges faced by the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
Following his arrival at Massingir Airport, President Chissano was welcomed by staff and community members from the park and the Massingir District. As part of the welcome, the 30 members of the newly-trained special anti-poaching unit, who have been deployed along the border with Kruger National Park, held a parade.
President Chissano visited Tihovene and Banga resettlement villages, where he addressed and interacted with community members who had recently been relocated from Macavene village inside LNP. President Chissano encouraged the communities to build on their new lives and opportunities afforded to them through the voluntary resettlement programme. He also engaged with the communities to discuss the increased poaching in the GLTP and to discourage the involvement of regional residents in these activities. A total of 606 rhino were killed in Kruger National Park in 2013. These incidents also saw the loss of a number of community members’ lives.
President Chissano at the boundary fence
Following an inspection of the park’s new 56 km south-eatern boundary fence, which was constructed to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the community support zone, a presentation highlighting some of the park’s successes and challenges was given at the Massingir headquarters.
President Chissano was accompanied Mr Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, and by Dr Leonardo Simão, executive director of the Chissano Foundation. Naturally, discussions focused on the poaching challenges and how the newly created Joaquim Chissano Wildlife Preservation Initiative could play a role, including through institutional and political support, anti-poaching operational support and a softer community-based approach to the challenges. LNP looks forward to further engagement with the Chissano Foundation in this regard.
The visit was concluded with an overnight stay at Machampane Camp, a luxury tented camp in LNP. During a morning game walk, the delegation came within meters of a hippopotamus in the Machampane valley – a new resident who had probably walked up the valley from Massingir Dam and was given the name “Chissano”, which was a fitting end to a successful visit.