All in all, it took over six weeks to locate, capture and translocate the two leopards from Karingani into Zinave National Park. As leopard are extremely territorial animals it now becomes a waiting game to see whether or not they will settle in their new home. The foundations have been laid over the previous decades, with successful rewilding efforts growing the herbivore population to over 6 500 – wildebeest, zebra, eland, kudu and other antelope species – so there is plenty of food to keep the new arrivals happy. This, along with the huge expanse offered in the 408 000 ha park could prove to be the perfect home and breeding ground for them.

The presence of a female leopard in Zinave will help attract more male leopards into the park too. Female leopards settle down when cubs are born, abandoning their nomadic lifestyle until the cubs are old enough to accompany them on outings, be it hunting or exploring the landscape. As a female typically has a litter of two or three cubs, the population of leopard in Zinave will start to increase, all being well, over the coming years. As younger leopard are more adaptable to new areas, there is hope that this founder population of leopard will grow into around 200 leopards, all of which can be sustained by the increasingly thriving ecosystem there. This is excellent news for the ecosystem, but also for the local economy that can flourish with sustainable nature tourism. Who wouldn’t like to see a female leopard in the wild with a few cubs trailing behind her?

Back in 2020, a clan of four hyena were translocated into Zinave National Park, and they have since produced cubs. More recently, however, a huge male lion in his prime, as well as a female moved into the sanctuary all on their own. So as these key species start to thrive, in addition to other keystone species that are also naturally being drawn to the region, Zinave is well on its way to becoming one of Mozambique’s flagship protected areas.
So far, the signs are positive. As data on the leopards’ movements and lifestyle is gathered from their collars, it will be possible to keep an eye on how well they are doing. Keep watching Peace Parks TV to follow this incredible story.