It’s another beautiful morning in Limpopo National Park in Mozambique as Peace Parks Foundation’s Chief Pilot and Aviation Manager, Hannes van Wyk prepare his aeroplane for a short flight to Banhine National Park. He won’t be flying alone this morning though, as Peace Park’s Senior Project Manager, Antony Alexander, will be joining him. Together they will tackle a list of important tasks in the neighbouring park.
As they take off from Limpopo, the pair make sure to keep their eyes peeled for any wildlife below. Their flight path takes them out of the park, over a highway, community lands and a series of crisscrossing trails created by cattle grazing in the area.
Cattle and Conservation
Within most traditional communities in Africa, including those living in and around Limpopo National Park, livestock remains massively important. Not only is it a form of sustenance, but cattle herds are seen as a form of currency.
It is not uncommon to see cattle grazing on the outskirts, or even inside national parks because communities and wildlife have coexisted like this for centuries gone by. This is, however, quite complicated as wildlife and cattle do not always live together in harmony.
With the ever-expanding human population, natural habitats that exist outside of protected areas, are fast being converted to sustain rural communities. In Africa, human-wildlife conflict is a major and complex issue which affects both the wild animals and villages that lie in the buffer zone of protected areas such as Banhine National Park.
To help reduce human-wildlife conflict and decreased land degradation through overgrazing, Peace Parks and partners have assisted communities here through the Herding 4 Health programme. Stay tuned to Peace Parks TV this week to learn more about this.
And they journey on
As the duo continue their journey to Banhine, Antony gets a bird’s-eye-view of the landscape and it is clear to see the damage that illegal logging is causing. To help prevent further loss of precious forests, Peace Parks Foundation is working with communities in the area to reduce their reliance on natural resources through the development of alternative livelihoods opportunities such as conservation agriculture, cookstoves and through increased livelihood and employment opportunities.
Soon, the unmistakable crystal-clear lagoons of Banhine National Park appear in view and the pair prepare for landing. This impressive 700 000 hectare park lies within the wildlife corridor between Limpopo and Zinave national parks, playing a critically important role in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. It serves as an important point of passage for migratory birds who flock to the park’s wetlands during the rainy season, as well as other wildlife that travel between the parks.