Reaching the height of a two-storey building, and blessed with a dazzling patchwork of patterns, the giraffe is one of Africa’s most impressive mammals. It is always a treat to witness the graceful, slow-motion strides of the world’s tallest land animal as it goes about its business in the African bushveld. However, similar to other large African mammals such as elephant and rhino, the giraffe is under threat due to habitat destruction and other human impacts. This is of concern because giraffe fill a very important niche in the ecosystem: they use their 45 cm long tongues to strip leaves from the top of trees which most other mammals can’t reach. This slows the growth of the trees, therefore maintaining the open woodlands that provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of grazers and browsers.
Peace Parks Foundation, together with its partners and donors, is ramping up its efforts to protect these amazing animals. In 2019, 11 giraffe were translocated from South Africa to the 18 600 ha sanctuary in Mozambique’s Zinave National Park. This seed population is thriving in the well-protected, resource-rich ecosystem. In conjunction with experts such as the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, many more giraffe will be translocated to Zinave and other conservation areas in the coming years, ensuring that populations can blossom once more.
Zinave National Park is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through healthy partnerships between communities, conservationists and governments. Thanks to some incredible rewilding and restoration efforts, the park has undergone an epic transformation — from a silent landscape to a thriving wilderness area singing with the sounds of nature. Wildlife numbers in this protected environment are booming. So much so, that Peace Parks was able to reintroduce the first predators – a clan of four spotted hyenas – in 2020. Elephant, giraffe and a wide variety of other mammals, big and small, also criss-cross the woodlands and plains of the reserve.
The foundation is being laid for a thriving tourism economy, boosted by the development of tourism infrastructure and the employment of people from surrounding communities.