In southern Mozambique, the ridge of the Massingir Dam looks like a bridge between two worlds. On one side is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and its protected animals, and on the other is headquarters of those who hunt them down.
On the southern shore of Lake Massingir, the Mozambican city has earned a reputation as a local poaching capital. It is a kind of backbone of organized crime syndicates, desperate to cross the border between Mozambique and South Africa through the park, to the famous reserve of South Africa’s Kruger Park, and kill some rhinos.
Every year, more than a thousand specimens are slaughtered in South Africa for their horns, highly prized by practitioners of traditional medicine in China or Vietnam.
This project aims to limit conflicts between humans and animals, but it will also open the park to tourists, and encourage the development of our country.
“On one side are the forces of conservation, and on the other side of the gang leaders established in the city, who display their wealth, their beautiful houses, their luxury cars. We know very well who they are, even if it’s difficult to legally prove it’, says Peter Leitner of the Peace Parks Foundation, which works for trans-boundary protected areas.
To help protect the park and animals, forty (40) young rangers have just been recruited by the Limpopo National Park to help in the fight against poaching and ensure development of the park.
“Recently, we seized a large caliber weapon, but the three poachers managed to escape, only 7 kilometers from the village of Mavodze in the Reserve”, chief ranger Samuel Chanque.
Elephants and buffaloes regularly threaten food crops and lions sometimes attack livestock. More than 200 brick houses are under construction to rehouse the Bingo community in the buffer zone.
“This project aims to limit conflicts between humans and animals, but it will also open the park to tourists, and encourage the development of our country”, said relocation coordinator, Aghostinho Chambula.
South Africa and Mozambique, which share the 37,000 square km of the Grand Limpopo Reserve with Zimbabwe, have recently stepped up their cooperation against poaching.
As a result, the border between the two countries is better monitored and, according to authorities in Maputo, intrusions of Mozambican poachers are less frequent in the South African zone.
Poaching dropped in 2017. Only two (2) elephants were slaughtered in the Limpopo National Park compared to sixteen (16) in 2016.