The Gorongosa Project team aim to advance an integrated multi-partner approach to conservation and to people-centred development. The protection of Gorongosa National Park’s biodiversity and ecosystem services is a core part of the Project’s mission. Our partner also unlocks the park’s economic potential for the community inhabitants of the Gorongosa Buffer Zone in Mozambique’s Sofala Province and further afield.
By balancing the needs of people and wildlife, Gorongosa Project hopes to create an immense, unfenced, connected mosaic of protected areas in central Mozambique. A large and multi-faceted organisation, the Project is involved in a number of conservation and development programmes, including habitat management, species reintroductions, social health, environmental education, sustainable development, and gender-focused projects.
Gorongosa was first established as a hunting reserve in 1920 and became a national park in 1960. For decades it was one of Africa’s most popular wildlife destinations, but the 1977 – 1992 Mozambican Civil War decimated the park. Approximately 95% of all the large mammals in Gorongosa were killed during the war and its aftermath.
In 2008, the non-profit Carr Foundation (founded by US entrepreneur and philanthropist Greg Carr) signed an agreement with the Government of Mozambique to form the Gorongosa Project. This 20-year public-private partnership secured joint management of the park and joint responsibility for human development in surrounding communities. The partnership was extended for another 25 years in 2018.
Perhaps one of Africa’s greatest wildlife restoration stories, Gorongosa has been described as a ‘global model for integrated biodiversity conservation and human development’ and has flourished under the Project’s leadership. Our partner has reintroduced Painted Dogs; overseen recoveries of numerous species, including lion, elephant, hippo, zebra, buffalo and wildebeest; and brought transformative improvements to community health, education, livelihoods and food security.
World Land Trust (WLT) and Gorongosa Project became partners in 2021, when we funded the acquisition of a 29,600-acre (12,000 ha) timber concession around 35km to the east of Gorongosa National Park.
Following the completion of the acquisition process in March 2022, the Project began consulting with local communities to develop a sustainable development and management plan for the wider area. This plan, which may include sustainable timber harvesting as a form of revenue generation, will also be funded by WLT.
The LOFE Reserve will form a key part of the Project’s ‘Mountains to Mangroves’ landscape corridor, which aims to link the national park with the Indian Ocean. Depending on community consultations, all or part of the reserve may be converted into a community conservation area.
This project falls within the Gorongosa and Marromeu Complex, a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) that links a range of ecosystems, some of which are found nowhere else in Mozambique. The KBA also harbours a significant number of rare, endemic, and threatened species, including Lion and Leopard (Vulnerable), Zambezi Flapshell Turtle (Endangered) and White-headed Vulture (Critically Endangered).
Although the miombo woodland found in the reserve and surrounding areas has suffered widespread deforestation and degradation in recent years, it still offers vital connectivity for wildlife in the wider Gorongosa landscape. There is strong potential here to restore biodiversity to historically healthy levels – something Gorongosa Project has proven adept at. Our partner’s upcoming work could benefit as many as 20 IUCN Red List species in the region.
Gorongosa Project’s wide-ranging work is structured around five main pillars:
- Conservation: Protecting ecosystems and biodiversity through law enforcement, wildlife management, species reintroductions, conservation technology, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and other methods.
- Community: Supporting human development and improving wellbeing by providing access to healthcare and education for both children and adults, while also fostering community-based natural resource management.
- Ecotourism: The development of ecotourism has allowed Gorongosa Project to employ local people and generate sustainable revenue for the park. 20% of this revenue currently goes to communities living in the Gorongosa Buffer Zone.
- Science: Described by E.O. Wilson as the most ecologically diverse park in the world, Gorongosa attracts international researchers as well as a new generation of Mozambican scientists, whose work – among other things – helps to promote sound land and water use.
- Sustainable Development: By investing in sustainable farming, forestry and other industries, and running coffee, honey and cashew programmes, Gorongosa Project aim to lift every family in the Gorongosa Buffer Zone out of poverty.
Below are just a few of the many significant highlights that showcase the remarkable work done by Gorongosa Project since 2008:
- 27,000 traps and snares removed as of 2019
- More than 100,000 large mammals recorded in a 2020 aerial survey
- 260 park rangers (249 men and 11 women) trained, resulting in increased law enforcement capacity and a 72% decrease in wildlife poaching incidents
- 11,000 farmers trained in new farming practices, resulting in improved crop yields and increased nutritional status for Buffer Zone communities
- 89 Gorongosa Girls’ Clubs supported in 2021, helping to improve academic skills and school retention for 3,560 girls in six districts
- 630 local health professionals trained in nutrition, maternal, neonatal, and child health, resulting in 8,100 children vaccinated, 1,700 malaria cases treated, 2,400 anti-malaria bed nets distributed, and over 30,000 nutritional interventions conducted for children under 5
- General healthcare provided to 100,000 people each year
- The creation of a Master’s in Conservation Biology programme, the only master’s programme in the world taught entirely within a national park
- In 2020, Pedro Estêvão Muagura, Gorongosa’s Park Warden, received the prestigious Kenton R. Miller Award for Innovation in National Parks and Protected Area Sustainability
- Multiple awards from international film festivals for the films On the Front Line and Our Gorongosa, produced by Gorongosa Media