The perilous 1,000-mile journey to save Africa’s endangered black rhinos
28 October 2022
The Park Warden of Mozambique’s Maputo National Park, Miguel Goncalves, has been announced as a recipient of the prestigious Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa. This accolade is bestowed annually on an individual judged to be an emerging conservation leader, in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation and considerable success shown in their chosen field.
Responding to this big moment, Miguel said: “I am deeply touched to be recognised with such a time-honoured award. There aren’t many wild spaces remaining in the world that includes the combination of such significant marine and terrestrial biodiversity, as in Maputo National Park. Being able to live out my passions in leading the protection of these ecosystems is a privilege. But I also have to acknowledge my colleagues in the park – the staff from Mozambique’s National Administration for Conservation Areas (ANAC) and Peace Parks Foundation – who support and empower me to greater heights each day. Side-by-side with the people of Mozambique we are changing the face of conservation in our country.”
Under Miguel’s inspiring leadership over the past 12 years, Maputo National Park – that is co-managed by ANAC and Peace Parks – has been transformed from an over-exploited ecosystem in crisis, to a wildlife haven that is cherished and protected not only by those who work in the park, but also by local communities and businesses, united in this cause through Miguel’s advocacy.
“Miguel is not only a Park Warden. He’s an educator, a negotiator, the person who establishes partnerships. He has the ability to closely engage community leaders and communities. In difficult situations, it is Miguel who is there, and he is adored. We congratulate him and commend him for his commitment. Thank you for flying our national flag proudly across the globe,” said Celmira da Silva, Director General of ANAC.
We wish to extend a huge congratulations to Miguel for this outstanding achievement. Successful conservation starts and ends with people, and it has long been part of our mission to ensure that there is local ownership and capacity on the ground in all of the protected areas where we work. People who are experts in their field, people who care, people like Miguel. We could not be prouder.
Werner Myburgh, Peace Parks Foundation CEO
Maputo National Park
In December 2021, Mozambique’s Council for Ministers officially merged the spectacular terrestrial and marine ecosystems of Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve into the new Maputo National Park. The proclamation of the 1 700km2 park followed two decades of intensive development and restoration activities led by ANAC and Peace Parks, a collaboration that was formalized in 2018 through a 15-year agreement to jointly manage the conservation area as a key component of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area. The park also falls within the Maputo Environmental Protection Area (MEPA) proclaimed in 2019 to bring various land-use areas under one umbrella and substantially increase the ocean protection zone. This region is considered one of the most biologically diverse and endangered ecoregions on Earth. It is one of the most important turtle nesting sites in Mozambique and home to many rare and endangered species such as migratory whales, dugongs, and loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Dominant coastal habitats include extensive mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. Aquatic conservation will be intensified significantly over the next seven years through a game-changing grant of € 5.9m from the Blue Action Fund through the Green Climate Fund, that will be used to effectively implement ecosystem-based adaptation in environments and communities along the marine components of the MEPA. On land, a rewilding program has translocated almost 5 000 animals to the park, including 11 species that had become locally extinct. Total wildlife numbers of elephant, giraffe, buffalo, eland, oribi, hippopotamus, zebra and many more, have grown to an estimated 12 300 animals, signifying the success of intensified ecological management and protection of wildlife and their varied habitats – coastal lakes, wetlands, swamp forests and grasslands – combined within the park. Various development programmes are implemented aimed at working with local communities to improve their well-being and resilience. Amongst other things, this includes improving food security through various conservation agriculture activities; expanding livelihoods through job creation and vocational training; providing sustainable access to water for farming, people and livestock; engaging the youth, and specifically also girls, through conservation education; and promoting empowerment through reproductive health and family planning. An increased focus has now been placed on the development of an array of tourist facilities and experiences that can promote to the long-term sustainability of the park.