The development of Zinave National Park was given a boost at the end of 2015 when the Mozambican Ministry of Land, Environmental and Rural Development signed a co-management agreement with Peace Parks Foundation to jointly develop the park as an integral component of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
Bernard van Lente has been here all along, as Project Manager for the park. Back before Peace Park’s involvement, the region was an eerily quiet place, without much wildlife filling the bush with calls and cries. The animals that did live here had learnt to stay quiet to avoid shooting or poaching. It was a sad state of affairs. Now, due to the success of rewilding, Zinave is gradually being restored to a thriving, noisy, functioning ecosystem, where species of plants, birds and animals are blossoming. This had had a knock-on effect on the vegetation too, which is now grazed, allowing other animals to access the landscape. Elephants, for example, eat the trees and plants, leaving their dung behind, which attracts dung beetles and other insects. In effect, the grass is now being recycled naturally.
This all means that biodiversity is improving and it is great news for all life forms that live in the reserve. In fact, there is a stark contrast between the protected and non-protected areas now. This is heartening as it shows just how fast nature can bounce back if given a helping hand.
Studies have shown that animals that are fearful leave stress hormones behind in their dung, which can warn others of nearby dangers. Peace Parks hopes that in the protected area of Zinave National Park this is now a thing of the past.
With the intent of focusing conservation and protection efforts within the more than 400 000 ha Park, a 18 600 ha sanctuary was erected as initial habitat for translocated wildlife. The plan is to release animals into the larger expanse of the park once sufficient security measures have been implemented. More than 2280 animals that include impala, reedbuck, waterbuck, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, sable and elephant, have been translocated into this sanctuary from conservation areas in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.