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The first wildlife translocation to Maputo Special Reserve took place from 14 – 16 September 2010.
For the first time ever, wildlife was translocated from various game reserves in South Africa to Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve between 14 and 16 September 2010. This, combined with a number of wildlife translocations scheduled over the next number of years, is the primary step in developing the Reserve as a tourist destination, as it will enable the fast recovery and subsequent increase of its wildlife populations.
The Maputo Special Reserve is an important component of the Lubombo TFCA that includes five distinct tranfrontier conservation areas between Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland. The Maputo Special Reserve is part of the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA and, at 890 km², is a spectacular area that combines lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests with a pristine coastline. The Reserve protects a transition zone for tropical and temperate species and is a biologically important area which supports an exceptionally high number of endemic species of fauna and flora. It is part of the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Biodiversity Hotspot, thus one of earth’s 25 biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial eco-regions.
The Transfrontier Conservation Areas and Tourism Development Project that the Mozambican government has been implementing since 2006, is supported by the World Bank, which allocated US$6 million to develop the Maputo Special Reserve. The development of the Reserve includes infrastructure and accommodation upgrades, the construction of headquarters and accommodation facilities and the support of community activities that will generate revenue through the establishment of community driven conservation and tourism related projects. To supplement this, a co-financing agreement for the development and management of the Reserve for the period 2006-2012 was signed between the government of Mozambique and Peace Parks Foundation. A project implementation unit was also appointed to oversee the process.
Following a request by the Mozambican government to assist it with its community development strategy in the Matutuine District, the Foundation appointed a community development technical adviser to implement the strategy. This strategy aims to bring about the sustainable economic development of and benefit-sharing by communities living in and around the Reserve through a consultative and participatory process that will also develop nature-based tourism and conservation enterprises.
In recent years, significant strides have been made in developing Maputo Special Reserve as part of the core protected area of the Lubombo TFCA. The integrity of the Reserve has been secured by putting sound management structures and operations in place. This has been coupled with the development of necessary infrastructure such as game fencing, management offices, staff quarters and communication networks. Management operations and law enforcement activities are now carried out by skilled staff guided by an effective law enforcement strategy that has been introduced by the park warden, aided by the project manager. Essential equipment required for these operations such as vehicles and radios have also been procured. The management plan of the Reserve has been revised, thus ensuring that management have full knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the Reserve and are able to devise the necessary action plans.
Photographer: Matt Prophet
An integral part of the development of the Lubombo TFCA has been the proclamation of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in July 2009. The Partial Marine Reserve protects an area of 678 km², stretching from Ponta do Ouro in the south to the Maputo River Mouth in Maputo Bay in the north, extending three nautical miles into the sea and including Inhaca Island and Portuguese Island. Recent studies proved that, of all the marine turtles nesting along the extensive Mozambican coastline, about 77% do so in the newly proclaimed Marine Reserve.
Photographer: Werner Myburgh
Currently the government of Mozambique is preparing the extension of Maputo Special Reserve to link it with Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa through the Futi Corridor. This will reunite South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique’s last naturally occurring elephant populations that historically moved freely across the border along the Futi River and Rio Maputo floodplains. This range was limited in 1970 when the border was fenced for security reasons and finally closed off by an electric fence in 1989. The present objective is to ultimately remove the barriers and allow elephant and other wildlife to re-establish their historical migration patterns.
The formation of community conservation areas along the Futi River will enable communities to become shareholders in their own conservation and ecotourism businesses. Thus the Reserve’s expansion will also create an important and viable land use option in the region.
The donors supporting the development and expansion of the Maputo Special Reserve are the Dutch Postcode Lottery, Peace Parks Foundation Sweden, the World Bank, Turing Foundation, Principality of Monaco, Edmond and Benjamin de Rothschild Foundations, the Machangulo Group, Virgin Unite, Van Cleef & Arpels, the African Safari Lodge Foundation, WWF Netherlands and US Fish and Wildlife Service.