Mozambique’s Zinave National Park has welcomed its first white rhinos in 40 years.
The 19 animals have been successfully translocated from South Africa to the Zinave National Park. This landmark initiative is the result of a partnership between Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC), Peace Parks Foundation and Exxaro Resources, in collaboration with the Governments of Mozambique and South Africa.
The programme of rebuilding a white and black rhino population will take place over the next few years as part of a national conservation initiative to reintroduce rhinos back to safe havens in the country. The introduction of the rhino to Zinave National Park means it is currently the only national park populated with the “big five”-Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo.
The overall objective since the signing of a long-term Co-management Agreement in 2015 between ANAC and Peace Parks was to create a healthy ecosystem by introducing viable wildlife populations, encourage tourists to come back to the park and support the livelihoods of local communities living around the park.
To date 2,400 game animals representing 14 different species have been introduced to Zinave including elephant, sable, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, leopard and hyena. They are now present between the five national parks in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The Great Limpopo is one of the largest transfrontier conservation areas in the world spanning 100,000 square km and was formally established 20 years ago by the Heads of State of the three countries through a Treaty.
The introduction of the rhino to Zinave is the pinnacle of the wildlife reintroduction programme and an important measure for the survival of the species in Mozambique. To put this into context, over the past decade, over 8,000 black and white rhinos (over one third of the entire population left in the world) have been lost to poaching in southern Africa and this has greatly reduced the last remaining wild populations. To protect the species for future generations, the reintroduction of rhinos to new suitable habitats is one of the many measures currently undertaken by Peace Parks to help safeguard this flagship species.
An asset for Mozambique tourism
The 408,000 ha park has been completely transformed by developing infrastructure and capacity, enhancing conservation management and security, and breathing new life into what was once referred to as a ‘silent park’.
Rewilding is a vital component of restoring nature and ecological balance in large landscapes. The restoration and preservation of natural ecosystems is also recognised as one of the most effective tools we have in mitigating climate change and can increase global carbon uptake by up to 12 times through the creation of ecosystem “carbon sinks”.
The return of the rhino allows for Zinave to be introduced as a new and exciting tourism destination in Mozambique with the only national park in the country that has elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. This will open doors for international investment and tourism development, which in turn will generate income to sustain park operations, whilst also giving back to the local communities who will receive 20% of park revenues and directly benefit from additional job creation and a whole range of livelihoods opportunities now being realised. This, according to Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Werner Myburgh, speaks directly to core mission of Peace Parks to “create a future for people and nature to co-exist”.