Mozambique: Breeding Successfully in Zinave National Park

Mabote — Mozambique's Zinave National Park (PNZ), in the southern province of Inhambane, which is part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, is now successfully breeding rhinoceros.

In recent years, four rhino calves have been born in the PNZ, confirming that the ecological conditions in the park are favourable for breeding this endangered species.

Rhinos were recently reintroduced into the PNZ, and the first calf was born in the local sanctuary in 2021. President Filipe Nyusi baptised the animal with the name "Princess Innocent'. The other three calves were all born within the past 18 months.

The PNZ is managed by the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) in partnership with the South African Peace Parks Foundation (PPF).

The rhinos were reintroduced into the PNZ from South Africa. 37 rhinos in all were transported to the PNZ, with the final ten arriving last week.

Bernard Van Lente, the manager of operations for the PPF in the park told AIM that Zinave meets all the ecological conditions required for the successful breeding of rhinos. "With its fantastic vegetation, Mozambique is a real paradise for the animals', he said.

Both African species of rhino, the black and the white, have been reintroduced into Zinave. Van Lente believes that rhinos are essential for the balance of the ecosystem. He said the abundant vegetation in Zinave would play a key role in the success of the drive to increase the rhino population in Mozambique and in the southern African region.

The PNZ administrator in ANAC, Pedro Pereira, agrees. The recent births of the rhino calves, he said, confirmed ecological studies which indicated that there are favourable conditions for breeding rhinos in Zinave.

A breeding population of rhinos in Zinave will make it possible to transfer rhinos to other Mozambican conservation areas, and possibly to neighbouring countries, said Pereira. He imagined a time when, instead of Mozambique bringing in rhinos from South Africa, "other conservation areas can come to Zinave for their rhinos'.

Restocking the Zinave park has attracted the attention of poachers, and so Zinave has boosted it anti-poaching capacity, including the use of aircraft (one light plane and a helicopter), as well as technological vigilance and control systems. Thanks to these resources, four poachers were recently detained and are awaiting trial,

"From 2021 to the present, we have increased the number of rangers from 30 to 80', said Pereira. "They are being constantly trained in the technological techniques to accompany the movement of animals'.

He added that there are now daily land and air patrols of the 400,000 hectares of the park. ANAC believes that currently there are about 5,000 large animals in Zinave, a number that may be confirmed by an aerial census to be held later this year.

Pereira said the park is also building tourist infrastructures, to make it more attractive for the development of ecotourism.

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