Limpopo National Park in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Latest News6 July 2017

Lions poisoned for bone trade

© Vanessa Bristow
© Vanessa Bristow

[Maputo, 5 July 2017] On 3 July 2017 the tracks of three poachers were detected in the Intensive Protection Zone of Limpopo National Park, Mozambique. These were followed and it became clear that the poachers were following the tracks of a lion. Further investigation resulted in the discovery of a camp and nearby snare line with bait laced with poison to attract lion. Unfortunately the poachers were already successful and the carcasses of three lions and one hyena were discovered. The previous week, anti-poaching teams had also recovered snares and a small bag of poison in the same proximity.
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Mozambique proclaimed Limpopo National Park on 27 November 2001 and requested Peace Parks Foundation’s assistance in overseeing the park’s development as a Southern African Development Community (SADC) approved project, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the World Bank.

In 2001, a project implementation unit, comprising staff from Mozambique and Peace Parks Foundation, was set up to develop this million-hectare park. The unit focuses on six major programmes. These programmes deal with community support, voluntary resettlement, protection, tourism development, infrastructure and administration. All known suspected landmined areas and development sites were cleared of landmines and unexploded ordnance, according to international standards. The boundary for the community development zone was realigned to ensure that the communities living along the Limpopo and Elefantes rivers would have adequate space for their resource-utilisation needs. Park headquarters, staff housing, and workshop and accommodation facilities were built.

In 2010 the Federal Republic of Germany, through GIZ, made funding available to investigate the development of the community development zone along the Limpopo River. Based on this investigation, AFD funded agricultural projects in the community development zone that now include 18 community irrigation schemes, from which over 3 000 community members benefit. The communities belong to community associations that all benefit from food with a higher nutrient value, a sustainable source of food and the opportunity to generate an income.

Click on map to enlarge it © Peace Parks Foundation
Click on map to enlarge it © Peace Parks Foundation
The construction of a field-ranger base at Mapai Gate was jointly funded by BMZ through KfW and AFD. The base functions primarily as a training base and headquarters for protection operations in the northern region. In 2013, the park contracted a theatre group from Massingir, the small town close to the park headquarters, to raise awareness of rhino poaching among the communities in and around the park.

Following the training and equipment of a new 30-man protection unit, an intensive protection zone (an area where people are not allowed) was also put into effect along the western border of the park. The implementation of the protection zone was communicated to the leadership of the province, district and community villages, and was accepted by all. The results-based incentive scheme for field rangers continued to bear fruit, with improved anti-poaching results and a continued year-on-year increase in poachers arrested. In 2014 project implementation contracts were signed between the government of Mozambique, the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and Peace Parks Foundation to strengthen Mozambique’s efforts to combat wildlife crime in and around Limpopo National Park.

A new 56 km long fence that forms a boundary between the park’s core zone and the south-eastern buffer zone was erected. The fence supports conservation objectives in that it restricts access into the core zone of the park while acting as a primary barrier against human–wildlife conflict.

To allow wildlife access to the river, three conservation corridors were created to link the park’s core zone to the Limpopo River. These corridors will also enable animals to move to other conservation areas to the east, including Banhine National Park and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. Signage was erected in the community development zone along the Limpopo River to remind community members of the corridor boundaries.
In 2015, members of Mozambique’s environmental protection police force started working in and around the park to combat wildlife crime and enforce environmental protection laws. The park also trained security personnel while field rangers underwent refresher training at the Southern African Wildlife College. Thanks to Fondation Hoffmann, additional equipment for the rangers was delivered to the park

For more information, kindly visit the Limpopo National Park website.

Current Status

Following increased regional incidents of wildlife poisoning, the park trained 25 participants from the park, Greater Libombos Conservancy, Gonarezhou National Park and a number of hunting concessions on countering the scourge.

A new road runs parallel to the Limpopo River, to improve anti-poaching access routes into the sandveld area between the Limpopo and Shingwedzi rivers. Funding was received from The Rufford Foundation to further develop an incentive scheme for field rangers and other staff associated with anti-poaching activities.

For the first time, Limpopo National Park was this year included in the annual visit by media to Kruger National Park. Media were briefed on the development of the park and on the good cooperation that exists with Kruger National Park. This includes quarterly park management meetings and daily operational planning and communications along the border, including through a digital radio network, sponsored by the Rhino Protection Programme. The result has been a marked reduction in the number of poachers entering Kruger through the border area.
© Peter Leitner
© Peter Leitner
The governor of Gaza Province attended a function in the park and handed over five water pumps and associated accessories to two resettled communities. She also presented a cheque, representing 20% of the park’s revenue for 2015, to local communities. At the same ceremony, the anti-poaching patrol boat that will be used to patrol the Massingir Dam was launched. It will help prevent illegal fishing and, more importantly, prevent poachers from using the dam to access Kruger and Limpopo national parks. The boat was procured with funding from the World Bank’s Mozambique Conservation Areas for Biodiversity and Development Project (Mozbio). Thanks to Mozbio funding, six new irrigation pumps were also distributed to communities living in the community development zone along the Limpopo River.
Comunities receiving their cheque ©Peter Leitner
Comunities receiving their cheque ©Peter Leitner
The construction of a new field ranger base at park headquarters in Massingir is under way. The three four-wheel drive trail camp ablution blocks and Madonse Bridge, which had been damaged by flooding, were repaired. A contractor was employed to build a bridge across the Shingwedzi River, to enable a year-round connection between the northern and southern sections of the park.

Two park staff successfully completed the Higher Certificate: Nature Conservation - Conservation Implementation and Leadership at the Southern African Wildlife College.

To ensure that the core wilderness zone is fully protected, a voluntary resettlement programme by the Mozambican government is under way. This entails relocating 1 800 households from eight villages in the park. To date three villages, comprising 485 families, have been resettled outside the park. The remaining houses are under construction.

Information for visitors

Limpopo National Park Fact Sheet

Wilderness experiences available to the tourist have steadily increased since the park's official opening in November 2001. The park now offers four campsites on the 4x4 route, an overlander site with space for 10 camper vans, 20 individual campsites, 15 chalets and a luxury tented camp. Activities include game walks, a hiking trail, a backpacking and fishing experience, canoeing and a 4x4 trail for the adventurous. See the fact sheet above and this page for information, or visit the Limpopo National Park website for details and on how to book.

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