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On 17 May 2011, Mr Fernando Sumbana, Mozambique’s Minister of Tourism, officially opened the headquarters of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area (TFCA). Minister Sumbana said that this was an important day for conservation in Mozambique and a significant step in the development of this, Africa’s first marine TFCA.
The ceremony was attended by numerous dignitaries, including Mrs Maria Jonas, Provincial Governor of Maputo Province, Mr Avelino Muchine, the Matutuine District Administrator, Dr Francisco Pariela, National Director in the Ministry of Tourism, Dr Bartolomeu Soto, TFCA Director in the Ministry of Tourism, Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation and Drs Milou Halbesma from Turing Foundation.
This important occasion follows on the Turing Foundation kindly supporting the construction of the Marine Reserve’s headquarters, consisting of an office, a laboratory, marine guard dormitories and a lounge, once approval by the Mozambique Ministry of Tourism had been obtained. Turing Foundation also funded a house for the marine manager.
The development of Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve got under way on 14 July 2009, when the government of Mozambique declared the 678 km² marine protected area, stretching from Ponta do Ouro in the south to the Maputo River Mouth in Maputo Bay in the north. The Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve stretches three nautical miles into the Indian Ocean and includes Inhaca Island and Portuguese Island.
Recent studies have shown that, of the marine turtles monitored in Mozambique, around 77% nest in the Marine Reserve. It is thus the most important Leatherback and Loggerhead nesting ground on the Mozambique coast.
To increase the efficacy of the turtle monitoring programme along the 90km coastline, outposts were constructed at Ponta Milibangalala and Machangulo thanks to further donor support, including that of Van Cleef & Arpels, the Machangulo Group and Turing Foundation.
The Machangulo Group also donated a quad bike to the marine project, thus bettering beach patrols. The Principality of Monaco funded the first year of a coral reef monitoring programme, while US Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored a diving course and equipment for the marine guards.
Drs Halbesma said that Turing Foundation was proud to be part of the opening ceremony and to witness the result of their support that was contributing to the conservation of this stretch of coast and the protection of a critically endangered marine species.
Mr Myburgh, speaking on behalf of Peace Parks Foundation, thanked the donors for their tremendous support in developing the Marine Reserve, and in particular Turing Foundation for the Reserve’s headquarters. He noted that the Ponta do Ouro – Kosi Bay TFCA was the first transfrontier marine protected area in Africa and that this initiative was a practical and concrete example of that which underpins the peace parks philosophy, namely peace between man and man, and between man and nature.
Later in the day three community projects were launched thanks to the World Bank’s financial support. The Provincial Governor handed over cheques to the value of almost $600 000. The Governor remarked that this was a proud day for her, as it bore testament to the fact that conservation not only had a place in the world, but that it could also become an important economic driver for the people of Mozambique.
To conclude the day’s festivities, Mr Myburgh handed a private pilot license to Mr Natercio Ngovene, who made his inaugural flight in front of the crowd that had gathered for the occasion. The hanger had been constructed with financial support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and the Bantam Microlight sponsored by Turing Foundation to undertake aerial patrols of Maputo Special Reserve and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve.