Many wildlife enthusiasts from the world over, will probably be familiar with what is arguably known as South Africa’s ultimate safari destination, the Kruger National Park, and with its 2 million hectares of unspoiled wilderness, it’s not hard to understand why. But what many might not know, is that bordering the Kruger National Park’s eastern side, lies another jaw-droppingly beautiful area – the Limpopo National Park.
These two parks are situated within the larger Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also includes Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, lying to the north. It is an important conservation area that is home to over 850 animal and 2000 plant species. There is also an ancient wildlife corridor which is still being used by megafauna today that flows through these parks. The protection of this area is vitally important to maintain a healthy, functioning environment for not only the species within them, but for the communities who depend on these areas for survival.
Lilian Spijkerman, Peace Parks’ Chief Development Officer, is visiting Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park to get to know the work being done on the ground, the challenges of this work and of course, to meet the people who work here. Luckily, it’s not all work and no play as she is taken on a scenic helicopter flip that follows the course of the crocodile-filled Shingwedzi River, allowing for Lilian to get a birds-eye view of the area before reaching the beautiful Shingwedzi Cliffs.
Peace Parks Foundation has been assisting the Mozambique Government with the management and development of the park since 2001. The main goal is to protect and restore the ecosystem to what it was before many years of unsustainable natural resource took its toll on the local wildlife populations. The initial focus was to rewild the area and develop infrastructure such as management offices, improved road networks, ranger bases and tourism facilities that includes beautiful campsites, chalets and a tented lodge overlooking the Machampane River.
Working in partnership with the Mozambique National Administration for Conservation Areas, a large focus of operations here is on implementing counter-poaching strategies, community development initiatives such as youth programmes, and in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 8, creating meaningful employment and economic growth for those who live in and around the park.
Working with communities, Peace Parks and partners are developing and implementing climate-smart agriculture that take pressure off natural resources and contribute to year-round food security which will help meet SDG Goal 2, which focuses on ending hunger and improved nutrition.
As Lilian soon learns, Limpopo National Park is an incredible place to visit for those who enjoy the quieter roads, or skies – a true adventurer’s playground!