GORONGOSA RESTORATION PROJECT –– OUT OF THE ASHES
Gorongosa is both spectacular and spectacularly unknown. In the 1960s it had a well developed tourist infrastructure with camps, restaurants and even a nightclub. Decades of civil war all but destroyed the park and most of the larger mammals were slaughtered for meat and ivory. The park lies at the southern end of the Rift Valley in the heart of central Mozambique extending over more than 4,000 square km. Rivers rising on the 1,863-m Gorongosa mountain water the plains.
Seasonal flooding and waterlogging of the valley, which is composed of a mosaic of different soil types, creates a variety of distinct ecosystems. Grasslands are dotted with acacia savannah, dry forest on sands and seasonally rain-filled pans and termite hill thickets. The plateaus host miombo and montane forests with rainforests at the base of limestone gorges. This combination of unique features at one time supported some of the most dense wildlife populations in all of Africa, including the Big 5, vast herds of plains game, equalled only by the Serengeti, and over 500 bird species. Large mammal numbers were reduced by as much as 95% and ecosystems stressed during Mozambique’s long civil conflict at the end of the 20th century.
In 1978, Ken Tinley, a South African ecologist now living in Australia, completed his monumental PhD thesis of over 300 A3 pages “Framework of The Gorongosa Ecosystem” and which still stands as the definitive ecological work on Gorongosa. Last year we were lucky enough to be asked to digitise one of the few copies of the thesis and so gained insight into the ecology of this area.
The original digitised photocopy. We published this as a large format book " Montane to Mangrove" in 2021. The book is for sale or digital download on the Gorongosa website.
The Carr Foundation/Gorongosa Restoration Project, a U.S. not-for-profit organization, founded and sponsored by Gregory Carr, philanthropist and entrepreneur, has teamed with the Government of Mozambique to protect and restore the ecosystem of Gorongosa National Park and to develop an ecotourism industry to benefit local communities. Using some stunning images from the project archive, particularly invertebrates by entomologist Piotr Naskrecki, we recently made a series of 5 retractable banners that will be used to promote the park and illustrate key elements of the restoration programme. These are 3 of them:
Visit the Gorongosa website here: http://www.gorongosa.org