the history of gorongosa...
Gorongosa has long been recognised for its beauty and incredible biodiversity... and at it’s highpoint in the 1960’s and 70’s, it was home to the largest population of lions in Africa.
In 1920, The Mozambique Company set aside 1000 square km for the exclusive hunting of company administrators and guests. By 1935 the reserve was enlarged to 3200 square km to protect the habitat for nyala and black rhino, which were both highly prized for hunting trophies.
After the Mozambique Company’s charter ended in 1941, the colonial government took the first steps in banning hunting and establishing a viable tourism business. By the early 1960’s more than 6000 tourists were visiting annually. Gorongosa was declared a national park in 1960 and was then expanded to 5300 square km. Many improvements were made to handle the huge influx of tourists (including many celebrities), and new trails, roads and buildings were built during this time.
In 1976, a year after Mozambique had won its independence from Portugal, an aerial survey of the Park and the adjacent Zambezi River Delta counted approximately 6000 elephants and 500 lions - which was at that time the largest lion population in Africa. However, it was soon after this that the tide was to turn against this incredible adundance of wildlife.
In 1977, Samora Machel declared independence and proclaimed a new socialist state in Mozambique. This was seen as a major threat to the neighbouring states of Rhodesia and South Africa, who began arming and supporting a rebel army to destabilize the new government.
Civil war ensued and Gorongosa National Park was eventually shut down and abandoned in 1983. During the next 9 years, much of Gorongosa's wildlife was decimated by both sides, who slaughtered elephant for ivory to buy arms. The larger animals were all hunted for food, and predators such as the lions were either shot or starved for lack of prey.
By 1992, when the civil war finally ended, many of the large mammal populations (including lion and elephant) had been almost totally wiped out.
An initiative to rebuild Gorongosa's infrastructure and restore its wildlife began in 1994, but it was only in 2004 - when the Government of Mozambique and the US-based Carr Foundation agreed to work together - that major progress began to be made in rebuilding the park's infrastructure, restoring its wildlife populations and spurring local economic development - thus opening an important new chapter in Gorongosa's history.
In 2010 the Government of Mozambique increased the area of the Gorongosa National Park to incorporate Mount Gorongosa, and also established a Park buffer zone of 3,300 square km.
map of gorongosa
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