The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 Oct 2022
A second group of 26 eland has been successfully translocated to Maputo National Park as a follow-up operation to a similar translocation in 2019 that saw 20 eland reintroduced back into the park after the species had been absent for more than three decades.
This forms part of an expansive long-term restoration and development plan led by Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation who co-manage Maputo National Park. Through this collaboration, and with funding support from Mozbio, nearly 5 000 animals from 11 species have been translocated to the 1 700 km² park since 2010, proliferating to a wildlife population of just over 12 000.
The most recent aerial census in 2021 showed a population growth rate of 30% amongst the best established of the plains game. Whilst the pre-existing eland, even with the offspring already produced, was too small a founder herd to build a healthy population, it is hoped that the new additions will not only boost numbers, but also elevate varied genetics to beyond a robust, reproducible threshold, allowing them to gain ground on those species already present in greater numbers and growing at a steady rate. Efforts enabling the fast recovery and subsequent increase of the park’s wildlife populations are just one of a suite of long-term, extensive initiatives by ANAC and Peace Parks to enrich the greater landscape and bring livelihood opportunities to local communities through nature-based tourism and conservation-related enterprises.
As their numbers and impact grow, eland will establish themselves as signature species, alongside elephant and the many other reintroduced species, including buffalo, giraffe, impala, kudu, nyala, waterbuck, warthog, oribi, blue wildebeest, and zebra. This makes for great game viewing and an enhanced visitor experience hoped to exponentially increase the potential for a thriving eco-tourism product, thereby securing the sustainability and future protection of Maputo National Park – one of earth’s 36 biologically richest and most endangered ecoregions.
Maputo National Park is on a remarkable tourism trajectory, upwards to a position where access to its mosaic of marine and terrestrial spectaculars is becoming a tangible reality through options that cater to a diversity of tourists, and their pockets: from avid adventure seekers, ecologically conscious travelers, and those in search of luxurious pampering, to city-escapees yearning for time and space closer to nature. The vibrant portfolio features five-star luxury accommodation alongside exclusive 4×4 camps, with the promise of family-friendly chalets and facilities by the end of 2022. This bodes well for local communities who are directly impacted by a strong tourism economy through a 20% share in park revenue, increased employment prospects, and the knock-on benefits of regional economic growth as spurred on by eco-tourism.
Montebelo Milibangalala Bay Resort, a 16-chalet luxury lodge, was officially opened in 2021 and joined the exclusive Anvil Bay Chemucane lodge, which has been operating since 2016, in catering for the more discerning travelers. At the picturesque coastal location of Ponta Membene, visitors are now able to utilise seven new campsites that have direct beach access, exclusive ablutions and barbecue areas. Construction is almost complete on a 3-star tourism camp at Ponta Membene that will include 24 chalets, a reception and a restaurant. As part of a planned 4×4 adventure route, five dry (i.e. where campers are completely off the grid with no running water) 4×4 camps, and one wet 4×4 camp have been opened up at Elefantes Plains. Various picnic sites will also be open by end of 2022, to cater for the increasing number of day visitors who flock to the park for both guided game drives and off-roading self-drive adventures.
The eland were moved from Santuario Bravio de Vilanculos (Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary) – at the tip of the San Sebastian Peninsula, one group out of a total of 95 eland captured in this month’s operation, the majority of which were translocated to Zinave National Park further north. Execution of this challenging mission was made possible through the expertise of translocation logistics service provider, Conservation Solutions.