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.
A project implementation unit, comprising staff from Mozambique and Peace Parks Foundation, was set up to develop the Park. The unit focuses on six major programmes: infrastructure, voluntary resettlement, protection, community support, tourism development and administration.
We have assisted in the upgrade of access roads as well as the construction of staff housing, park headquarters, entrance gates, arrival and information centres, accommodation facilities, workshops, and new field ranger bases at Mapai and Massinger.
Resettlement to Development Nodes
To ensure that the core wilderness zone is fully protected, as well as to provide a voluntary resettlement programme by the Mozambican government is under way. This entails relocating 1 500 households from eight villages in the park to development nodes adjacent to the park . Living in remote and drought prone areas within the park – formerly a wildlife inhabited hunting concession area – these communities have inadequate opportunity for livelihoods and limited access to services. Moreover, government legislation prohibits the provision of any social services inside protected areas. Resettlement provides improved long term well-being especially for vulnerable groups and children. The benefits package includes a new house and access to schools, health services, energy (where feasible) and water within their village structures. For the first time, these communities now will also own title to their land which, under Mozambican law, is not possible living within a National Park. Of course resettlement also offers benefits to the regional economy though the development of the conservation area, from which communities will receive employment opportunities and increased value in the 20% share in Park revenues paid to them annually. To date three villages, comprising 488 families, have been resettled outside the park.
With more than one million hectares to patrol, implementing effective anti-poaching strategies, as well as leveraging limited resources for sustainable development – throughout the expanse of the Park, remains a significant challenge. A core objective of Peace Parks Foundation is to successfully establish an expanded Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) in the Park.The IPZ strategy allocates 80% of anti-poaching resources to the protection of vital hotspots identified along the park’s western border – a boundary shared with Kruger National Park, and the section of Limpopo National Park with the largest concentration of game. This area remains a critical focus point for illegal activities of wildlife crime syndicates.
To strengthen impact in the IPZ, senior operational and technical staff were appointed to coordinate intensified ranger patrols. This is managed from a new central command centre that has been equipped with the latest technology systems, which also connects with the Park’s new digital radio network. The radio network allows for real-time position monitoring of patrols to improve the safety and operational capability of the field ranger units, as well as enables cross-border communications between Limpopo and Kruger national parks In 2018, 29 additional rangers were trained and employed.
In addition, funding is being used to cover the operational costs of a dedicated aircraft operating in the IPZ; provide advanced field training to rangers; operate a ranger incentive scheme; as well as equip rangers with vital patrol gear. This includes providing them with durable, hard terrain motorcycles to patrol otherwise inaccessible locations, and specialised smartphones for the collection of critical live data from the field.
Following an increase in wildlife poisoning in Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Limpopo National Park staff also received poisoning awareness training and a LNP anti-poaching was assigned to assist specifically with Lion protection in the park.
Beyond the disruption of poaching, there is a shared vision for the development of the IPZ as central to establishing sustainable eco-tourism in the Park – truly showcasing the exquisiteness of the Park’s beauty and harnessing the potential of unique cross-border collaboration on tourism as part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. These interventions will ensure an improved wildlife product and will enable development of tourism strategies and products within the IPZ.
Communities in and around Limpopo National Park continue to be vulnerable with limited access to opportunities, resources and livelihoods.
Irrigation schemes are a vital way to provide food security and alternative livelihood opportunities for communities living adjacent to the park in an area that is drought-prone and isolated. Agricultural projects in the buffer zone include 18 irrigation community schemes, benefiting more than 3 00 community members. In addition to social upliftment and skills development, the schemes generate income through the sale of products. They also improve food sustainability and health thanks to the variety of foods being produced, while reducing the reliance on unpredictable rain-fed crops. By using climate-smart conservation agriculture techniques in these schemes, farmers reap the benefits of year-round crops while limiting their impact on the landscape. Conservation agriculture techniques promote soil water retention that allows farmers to produce their own compost and, through crop rotation, more nutrient rich soil. Peace Parks Foundation is providing ongoing support to several communities, including through the provision of maize and bean seeds. The rainy season that followed a three-year drought has helped to ensure good yields, offering food security for community members.
The park now offers four campsites on the 4×4 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 4×4 trail for the adventurous. Machampane Lodge, situated in the solitude of a pristine wilderness area in the Lebombo Mountains, provides luxury en-suite tents on raised decks, set into the river bank and overlooking the Machampane River. Halfway between Giriyondo and Massingir you will find Campismo Aguia Pesqueira – an overlander site that has space for 10 campers, 10 individual camp sites and four chalets on a plateau with a spectacular view of the Massingir Dam. Closeby is the Campismo Albufeira with 11 chalets and 10 camp sites.