Few enter Zimbabwe by wading barefoot across the cool, shallow water of the Limpopo River. Even less people can say they have done it escorted by Chief Maluleke from the...
The Zinave National Park (ZNP) is situated in the Inhambane Province of Mozambique and covers some 408 000 ha. Banhine National Park (BNP, 725 000 ha) which will also receive support for its conservation function, lies about 150km south of ZNP.
Some of the best wildlife habitats in southern Africa are reported to be located within the ZNP and this protected area used to harbour a wide diversity of wildlife. It was initially declared a hunting concession in 1962. In 1972 it was upgraded to national park status, specifically for the conservation of important species such as giraffe, which historically only occurred in Mozambique south of the majestic Save River. The park has incredible tree (over 200 species) and grass (over 40 species) diversity, and has countless very large and impressive tree specimens. The ‘sense of place’ of ZNP is truly something to experience.
Unfortunately, the ZNP suffered during of the protracted civil war from 1980 till 1992, which led to the loss of several of the large mammal species including the giraffe that was emblematic of this national park. As part of the ZNP restocking exercise, a few animals of various species, including giraffe, were restocked from Kruger, but this is still far from restoring the full species assemblage to the park. Still, Zinave represents a potentially important conservation node together with the other protected areas within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA).
Ideally situated close to one of the tourism development nodes within Mozambique – Vilanculos Bazaruto Islands – the ZNP is an area with incredible potential to host a game product which could ensure that the park, and therefore the adjoining areas, could become a sought after tourism destination. There is opportunity to develop a wildlife product which could be visited by the same tourist group while in the vicinity. The park could also in future become a 4×4 destination, and planning is in process for the improvement of 4×4 facilities within Limpopo, Banhine and Zinave national parks so that these can be linked as part of a Great Limpopo transfrontier 4×4 trail together with Kruger and Gonarezhou national parks.
Currently, from a broader landscape dynamics perspective, the opportunity exists to establish community conservancies in the interstitial communal lands to ensure connectivity between the GLTP core conservation areas. Through the establishment of Community Public Private Partnerships (CPPPs) and community conservancies, communities can actively participate in the wildlife economy as partners, contributing to the development of the larger Transfrontier Conservation Area concept.
On 22 September 2015, the Mozambican Minister of Land, Environmental and Rural Development, Mr Celso Correia, and Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Mr Werner Myburgh, signed a co-management agreement whereby the Mozambican National Agency for Conservation Areas and Peace Parks Foundation will develop Zinave National Park over the next five years.
The key objectives of the project are the unlocking of the tourist and socio-economic potential of the area and ensuring sustainable benefit flow and community development, by:
- Establishing the ZNP as an important protected area within Mozambique;
- Strengthening the conservation management capacity of both ZNP and BNP; and,
- Expanding and consolidating the core area of the GLTFCA in line with the objectives of the Treaty through:
- Reintroduction of wildlife to the ZNP
- Development of appropriate infrastructure
- Development of ecotourism products
- Community development and establishment of CPPPs within the wildlife dispersal areas linked to ecotourism and wildlife.
As a first step Bernard van Lente was appointed as Project Manager in January 2016, overseeing the implementation of the project in ZNP and BNP. He will be working hand-in-hand with the ZNP Park Administrator, Pedro Pereira.
Watch this space…