THE SITUATION IN MOZAMBIQUE
Mozambique is to invest some US $100 million in conservation areas by 2023, Celso Correia, Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development stated. The money will be directed towards “conservation agriculture and construction of economic and social infrastructure for the districts that integrate the national parks and reserves that cover 25% of the territory”. The UK Government supports this initiative.
Mozambique boasts an exceptional biodiversity, with over 15 different land habitats, including endangered coastal forest. These areas are largely untouched by Mozambique’s civil war, and viable game populations including Elephant, Buffalo, Hippo, Lion, Leopard, Wild Dog and several Antelope species exists. A marine survey revealed rare habitats such as sea-grass beds and found coral reefs that are among East Africa’s richest, with diverse fish life and endangered species including turtle, humpback whales, dugong and whale shark.
One of Saving The Survivors (STS) aims is to diversify geographically into new regions, enabling a greater reach and resource, widening our positive impacts.
The first expansion occurred in 2018 in Mozambique, creating STS Mozambique, originally with one veterinarian Dr. Joao Almeida.
Whilst in Mozambique STS partnered with many conservation NGOs in the area to deliver emergency, reactive wildlife services, as well as more proactive wildlife conservation initiatives.
STS also helped to provide institutional, technical and human capacities to Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) to meet the challenges of situations within the country.
The partnership between STS and ANAC enhanced the need for conservation and protection of biodiversity and delivered durable solutions towards establishing a cooperative approach to training future veterinarians within the sector. STS subsequently increased the number of veterinarians in Mozambique to three, whilst also gaining government mandate to mitigate human wildlife conflicts nationally.
The huge success of operation Mozambique and the value of working in collaboration with partners lead to the next phase of the mission, to create a dedicated organisation, independent of STS, which is able to work with an array of partners without being bound by the branding of any one organisation. A new entity which will deliver wildlife conservation within Mozambique, which values the collaboration with a new neutral entity mandated by ANAC.
This organisation is called Mozambique Wildlife Alliance (MWA), with operations headed by Dr Joao Almeda, seamlessly continuing to build upon the great work and partnerships formed by STS.
Niassa National Reserve, which is the largest protected area in Mozambique, home to the country’s largest populations of Elephants marked a year without losing a single Elephant to poachers. This is a huge success when considering the heavy poaching which occurred in previous years. This is in part due to combined efforts from WCS and ANAC, who collared 40 Elephants in the region in late 2018 and had the President on site at the same time. Our STS vet in Mozambique, Dr Almeida, was privileged to co-lead the operation with Dr Carlos Lopes Pereira, the head of protection and law enforcement at ANAC.
Other successes in 2019 include the introduction of a pack of 13 Wild Dogs from South Africa to Karingani Game Reserve in Mozambique. The 16-hour journey to the reserve went smoothly, with all Wild Dogs comfortable in their specially made crates, provided by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. The Dogs were initially released to a temporary enclosure to settle in their new environment for three weeks, before releasing them into a pristine 150,000 hectare reserve.
In the same year 117 new Buffalo were translocated to Maputo Special Reserve as a part of a larger rewilding project, which forms an essential component of the Lubombo Transfronteir Conservation and Resource Area, as it enables linkages between a mosaic of marine, coastal and inland components, with important conservation and tourism values.
Wildlife including Rhino, Elephant, Giraffe, Lion and many more were continuously treated throughout national parks and conservation areas in Mozambique, with many experiencing severe injuries from snares and gin traps. Throughout 2019, our Mozambique STS veterinarian Dr Almeida, attended to 9 Lion which sustained significant injuries from snaring. One of the worst cases was a young male who was found in a gin trap, with the bone completely exposed. This horrific injury was treated and managed, leading to a full recovery!
Through tracking the movement of various animals, STS were able to mitigate the human-wildlife conflict affecting Mozambique communities by relocating wildlife into conservation areas. This is evident through the translocation of eight Lions from the Massingir community area to the Karingani Game Reserve, and the collaring of several Elephant and Lion throughout Mozambique.
With human population expansion, communities are forced to move into habitats which overlaps the habitat of wildlife. This leads to crop raiding and predation of livestock, which in some cases results in retaliatory attacks on wildlife, including poisoning and snaring animals. These scenarios comprise some of the cases STS vets were able to treat and attend to.
In the extreme South of Mozambique, in Ponta do Ouro, feral dogs have historically posed a significant threat to marine turtles (classified by the IUCN Red list as vulnerable), killing between 1000 and 2000 individuals. Dr Almeida assisted with the safe capture of twelve feral dogs, which were then taken to a shelter to be neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and placed for adoption.
“We are immensely proud of all the hard work, money, equipment and time investment that STS, our staff and our supporters have put in to creating the conservation structure that now exists in Mozambique and we very much look forward to watching and helping with the continued success of Joao and the newly formed MWA.”
Paul Naden, Director of STS.