17 October, 2017
Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration story
Photo: © Nicolas De Corte / Dreamstime.com
Right in the heart of Mozambique, the Gorongosa National Park was once considered one of Africa’s greatest parks, but sadly, the civil war from 1977 to 1992 resulted in the loss of more than 90 per cent of the park’s wildlife. The Gorongosa Project has been working to restore the park since 2004, and so far, it is succeeding – today, wildlife populations are at approximately 80 per cent of pre-war levels. By protecting and saving this beautiful wilderness, the Gorongosa Project is returning it to its rightful place as one of Africa’s greatest parks.
Aware of the intrinsic connections and interdependencies between local populations and national parks, the Gorongosa Project works to balance the needs of wildlife against the needs of the people. The project works to ensure that the park benefits local communities positively, understanding that this vital link is necessary to protect its success and longevity. As many as 200,000 people live in or near Gorongosa Park.
According to Professor Robert M. Pringle, head of the science committee on the board of the Gorongosa National Park, “there is no doubt that protected areas can effectively protect populations and habitats and it is increasingly clear that they often do.” He explains in his article how, in national parks, local biodiversity is greater, rates of landscape conversion are lower and wildlife population trends are generally stable or increasing. “Similarly,” he says, “there is mounting evidence that protected areas often reduce poverty and increase the wellbeing of rural populations.”
Professor Pringle describes the importance of building a ‘new model’ for a national park which, while protecting wildlife and biodiversity, serves as a human development engine. Pringle believes that the model is underpinned by eight general principles which can help to guide future conservation efforts elsewhere. These include: protecting remaining refuges and harnessing nature’s resilience; upsizing and interconnecting protected areas; being long term and local; communicating with neighbouring communities and local stakeholders; developing creative financial strategies; being adaptable; understanding biodiversity, and; involving and educating young people.
“In this century, parks will need to prove their worth to African communities. The people have a right to an equitable share of the benefits that flow from protected areas – employment, education and a variety of human services that park management is uniquely positioned to offer.”
– Greg Carr, member of the oversight committee of the Gorongosa National Park.
Click here to find out more about the Gorongosa Restoration Project. You can also read Professor Pringle’s full article on Gorongosa here. Learn more about Oak’s Wildlife Conservation and Trade sub-Programme here.