I’d Like To Spend Some Time In Mozambique

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Wild dogs, apex predators missing from Gorongosa National Park for decades, have been reintroduced and are slowly making a comeback, part of an ongoing experiment in reviving the park ecosystem after years of devastating war. Credit Brett Kuxhausen/Gorongosa Media, via Associated Press

Thanks to one of our favorite science writers, the ever-optimistic Natalie Angier, for this note of hope:

In Mozambique, a Living Laboratory for Nature’s Renewal

At Gorongosa National Park, scarred by civil war, scientists are answering fundamental questions about ecology and evolution, and how wildlife recovers from devastation.

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Baboons and sharptooth catfish in the Mussicadzi River in the park during the dry season. The baboons in Gorongosa are brazen and plentiful, as there aren’t many leopards to keep them in check. Credit Piotr Naskrecki & Jen Guyton/NPL/Minden Pictures

GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK, MOZAMBIQUE — The 14 African wild dogs were ravenous, dashing back and forth along the fence of their open-air enclosure, or boma, bouncing madly on their pogo-stick legs, tweet-yipping their distinctive wild-dog calls, and wagging their bushy, white-tipped tails like contestants on a game show desperate to be seen.

Since arriving at the park three months earlier, as they acclimated to their new setting and forged the sort of immiscible bonds that make Lycaon pictus one of the most social mammals in the world, the dogs had grown accustomed to a daily delivery of a freshly killed antelope to feast on. Continue reading

As Wild As It Gets

Greg Carr says Gorongosa is a “human development and conservation project". PHOTO: BBC

Greg Carr says Gorongosa is a “human development and conservation project”. PHOTO: BBC

What does it take to restore a wildlife hotspot? To put some animals back in, develop and sustain the environment so more animals return, and hold up the model as a means to uplift communities, and thereby the nation? The answer is Gorongosa National Park – a Mozambican safari paradise.

In 1962, six-year-old Vasco Galante was treated to his first cinema trip – to see Charlton Heston in the Hollywood epic, The Ten Commandments. But despite the blockbuster’s eye-popping sequences, the images that most impressed young Vasco came from a short advert shown before the film, which showcased the elephants, lions and buffalo in the verdant floodplains of Gorongosa National Park – a Mozambican safari paradise once marketed as “the place where Noah left his Ark”.

As he left the Lisbon picture house, young Vasco vowed to visit the park one day, and more than 40 years later, he finally got the chance. But the park he encountered was a far cry from the Gorongosa of ’60s showreels that once attracted the likes of John Wayne, Joan Crawford and Gregory Peck. A brutal 15-year civil war in the aftermath of Mozambique’s independence from Portugal in 1975 had devastated much of the province, and Gorongosa, one of its key battle grounds, was almost destroyed.

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