In what has been described as another victory for cross-border conservation, a series of successful wildlife translocations saw 27 zebra and 62 blue wildebeest safely making the 1 250km journey from the Kruger National Park in South Africa to Zinave National Park in Mozambique last week.
The new arrivals are welcome additions to the more than 2 300 reintroduced animals that are now thriving under the restoration and management programmes being implemented in Zinave.
Since 2018, more than 700 animals have been translocated under a donation from South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to the Ministry of Land and the Environment in Mozambique, as they work together, supported by Peace Parks Foundation, to restock and rebuild key parks within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
“The translocation of species from the Kruger National Park to the Zinave National Park in Mozambique is an important indication of how South Africa’s conservation success is contributing to the rewilding of Africa,” said the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy. “The success of ongoing cross-border collaborations is an outstanding example of how African countries are working together to solve conservation problems and grow the eco-tourism sector.”
With more than 147 mammal species, the two-million-hectare Kruger National Park, managed by South African National Parks, was well positioned to support the restoration of decimated protected areas in neighbouring southern African countries, said Creecy.
She noted that the restoration of Zinave National Park had been one of southern Africa’s most remarkable conservation success stories. After decades of human impact severely disrupted the 408 000ha park’s natural ecosystems and healthy wildlife populations, work began on restoring Zinave to its former glory in 2016, with the signing of a co-management agreement between Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas and Peace Parks.
Today, thanks to wildlife donations from South Africa and Zimbabwe and through restocking from other areas in Mozambique, Zinave now boasts 13 species, including impala, reedbuck, waterbuck, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, sable and elephant.
Thriving in their safe and plentiful habitat, these reintroduced populations have more than doubled in numbers to close to 6 000 animals. With the herbivore populations flourishing, the first predators – a clan of four spotted hyenas – were reintroduced into the park at the end of 2020 and have already produced their own offspring.
“It is heartening to see how healthy populations of wildlife have stimulated the potential for increased tourism and related income opportunities in and around Zinave. The park is set to become a major contributor to Mozambique’s eco-tourism economies. We highly value the cross-border partnerships that we have with our governmental partners in South Africa and with Peace Parks Foundation. It is a wonderful example of how regional partnerships can contribute to building a more prosperous future for southern Africa and its people,” said Mozambique’s Minister of Land and the Environment, Ivete Maibaze.
Kruger and Zinave national parks form the most western and eastern anchor parks of a vital cross-border wildlife corridor within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
Wildlife monitoring has identified species such as elephants, lions and wild dogs, which are using this transfrontier migration route to access water, food and breeding grounds. Ensuring healthy and protected ecosystems in these areas is therefore not only significant to the parks, but to the environmental well-being of the region, its natural resources and human development.