Maputo Special Reserve

There is nothing as invigorating as approaching a herd of African bush elephant on foot. Snorts can be heard, some low warning rumble, and when the matriarch starts flapping its ears it time to beat a safe retreat. But not before taking some photographs. Don’t try this yourself, except when invited to by a qualified ranger, as I was.

At the beginning of July, I visited Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique on behalf of the Peace Parks Foundation. I spent three days documenting wildlife, landscapes, and conservation work. The Peace Parks Foundation is creating transfrontier conservation areas in Africa. By protecting and enlarging international ecosystems they are restoring seasonal migration routes while creating economic opportunities for local communities. Peace Parks contribute to bilateral collaboration and enhance peace and regional stability. Founding patrons are the late Nelson Mandela, the late HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, and the late Dr. Anton Rupert.

Maputo Special Reserve (formerly known as Maputo Elephant Reserve) is situated roughly between Maputo and the border with South Africa. It will become an essential part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area, connecting parks and reserves in Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. Maputo Special Reserve is 77,400 hectares (191,000 acres) and is essentially a dune ecosystem, combining lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests with pristine coastline. Peace Parks Foundation supports this park by the translocation of animals, the training of field rangers, preventing human-wildlife conflict, and community work. Sponsors to the work of the Peace Parks Foundation in this reserve include COmON Foundation and the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

Due to the construction of the Maputo-Catembe Bridge and subsequent highway, visitors will be able to reach Maputo Special Reserve within an hour in the near future. Hence a lot of effort is focusing on restoring wildlife (decimated during the Mozambican Civil War), improving infrastructure, and establishing facilities for visitors. The constructing of a brand new high way through the reserve creates its own set of challenges… It was fascinating to get a first-hand account of the field rangers’ work: patrolling, combatting poaching, and fighting illegal bush fires.

I am pleased to have been able to contribute to the inspiring work of the Peace Parks Foundation. Considering I only had one full day I’m very happy with the results. Not to mention the experience: 24-hour unrestricted access to the reserve, excellent support by the field rangers, camping within our own electric fenced bush camp, and walking among African bush elephants. I would like to thank the people from the Peace Parks Foundation and the rangers of Mozambique’s National Administration of Conservation Areas (NACA) for this opportunity and their support during my assignment! Special thanks to Melchior Polwijk for his 4×4 driving skills.

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