Gorongosa National Park

Mon May 21, 2012 10:05 am

Fri Feb 10, 2012

Gorongosa National Park is at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley in the heart of central Mozambique. The 3,770 km² park includes the valley floor and parts of surrounding plateaus.

Image ©thesafaricompany.co.za

Seasonal flooding and waterlogging of the valley, which is composed of a mosaic of different soil types, creates a variety of distinct ecosystems. Grasslands are dotted with patches of acacia trees, savannah, dry forest on sands and seasonally rain-filled pans and termite hill thickets. The plateaus contain miombo and montane forests and a spectacular rain forest at the base of a series of limestone gorges.

This combination of unique features at one time supported some of the densest wildlife populations in all of Africa, but large mammal numbers were reduced by as much as 95% and ecosystems stressed during Mozambique's long civil conflict at the end of the 20th century. In 2004 the Government of Mozambique and the US-based Carr Foundation agreed to work together to rebuild the park's infrastructure, restore its wildlife populations and spur local economic development—opening an important new chapter in the park's history. Between 2004 and 2007 the Carr Foundation invested more than $10 million in this effort. During that time the restoration project team completed a 60km² wildlife sanctuary and reintroduced buffalos and wildebeests to the ecosystem. They also began the reconstruction of Chitengo Safari Camp. Due to the success of this initial three-year project, the Government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation announced in 2008 that they had signed a 20-year agreement to restore and co-manage the park.

In 2009 the first private ecotourism venture started in the park. Explore Gorongosa is a unique safari experience based from a seasonal luxury tented camp. Guests can take guided game and birding walks, night drives, and play an exclusive part in the park's visionary Restoration Project.

Image ©hotels-and-lodges.com

Image ©seethewild.org

Gorongosa National Park protects a vast ecosystem defined, shaped, and given life by all the rivers that flow into Lake Urema. Lake Urema is located in the middle of the valley, about three-quarters of the way down from the Park's northern boundary. The Muaredzi River, flowing from the Cheringoma Plateau, deposits sediments near the outlet of the lake slowing its drainage. This "plug" causes the Urema River to greatly expand in the rainy season. Water that makes its way past this alluvial fan flows down the Urema River to the Pungue and into the Indian Ocean. In the flooded rainy season, water backs up into the valley and out onto the plains, covering as much as 200 km² in many years. During some dry seasons, the lake's waters shrink to as little as 10 km². This constant expansion and retraction of the floodplains, amidst a patchwork of savanna,woodland, and thickets, creates a complex mosaic of smaller ecosystems that support a greater abundance and diversity of wildlife than anywhere else in the park.

Image ©considerafrica.com

Chitengo Safari Camp is the main camping and accommodation area in Gorongosa National Park. Chitengo camp was originally built in 1941 but sadly most of the infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war. Restoration has taken place since 2004 and Chitengo now features nine new double storey bungalows, a conference centre and an 80 seater Restaurant. Chitengo’s camp sites have also been upgraded with new ablutions (with hot showers), a grill area, firepit, an area to wash clothes and a covered gazebo.

Image ©tripadvisor.com

Image ©visit-mozambique.com

Gorongosa is home to an astounding diversity of animals and plants—some of which are found nowhere else in the world. This rich biodiversity creates a complex world where animals, plants and people interact. From the smallest insects to the largest mammals, each plays an important role in the Gorongosa ecosystem. With effective management and reintroductions of key species, wildlife populations will regain their natural numbers and help restore the park's ecological balance.

Image ©tripadvisor.com

Image ©worldnomads.com

Image ©warwicktarboton.co.za

Gorongosa National Park has a seasonal shutdown from 12 December 2011 until end of March, 2012. This is due to heavy rains which make movement by car difficult (even 4 WD).

For reservation enquiries go to: http://www.gorongosa.net

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Mon May 21, 2012 10:06 am

Fri Feb 10, 2012

Mammals at Gorongosa

The following mammals are very likely to be seen currently on a safari in Gorongosa:

1. WARTHOG
2. BUSHPIG
3. ORIBI *
4. BUSHBUCK
5. NYALA
6. REEDBUCK
7. IMPALA
8. WATERBUCK
9. BABOON **
10. VERVET MONKEY
11. SAMANGO (BLUE) MONKEY
12. PORCUPINE
13. CIVET
14. GENET
15. LARGE GREY MONGOOSE
16. SLENDER MONGOOSE ***
17. CROCODILE (a reptile, not a mammal – but still a very important species in Gorongosa’s ecosystem)
18. WATER MONITOR (also a reptile of course, but very common)

* A threatened species that does very well in Gorongosa - there is a belief that the Park has the highest
concentration of ORIBI in Africa

** We currently believe the Gorongosa baboons to be a cross-over population between the larger and more
aggressive CHACMA BABOON of Southern Africa and the more timid, diminutive YELLOW BABOON of East
Africa. We have sent through our speculations to mammal experts and are awaiting some feedback on this
interesting phenomenon...

*** A red version of this cute critter occurs in the Park leading to its nickname: Fire Mongoose

________________________________________

The following are mammals that you have a good chance of seeing at the moment on safari in Gorongosa:

19. SABLE
20. LICHTENSTEIN’S HARTEBEEST
21. KUDU
22. RED DUIKER
23. GREY DUIKER
24. HIPPO *
25. ELEPHANT
26. BUFFALO *
27. LI0N
28. SERVAL
29. THICK-TAILED BUSHBABY
30. WATER (MARSH) MONGOOSE
31. WHITE-TAILED MONGOOSE
32. DWARF MONGOOSE
33. BANDED MONGOOSE
34. TREE SQUIRREL

* These species are part of the ongoing re-introduction plan for the Park, particularly focused on increasing
the populations of the mega-herbivores that were so synonymous with Gorongosa in its heyday
________________________________________

These mammals we see from time to time and, particularly in the case of the wildebeest, are more often seen in the dry months (July-October). It must be noted that the chances of seeing these species increases with the amount of time you spend exploring Gorongosa:

35. BLUE WILDEBEEST *
36. SUNI
37. SHARPE’S GRYSBOK
38. BLUE DUIKER **
39. BUSHY-TAILED MONGOOSE ***
40. RED (FIRE) SQUIRREL **
41. HONEY BADGER (RATEL)


* Wildebeest are part of the ongoing re-introduction plan for the Park, particularly focused on increasing
the populations of the mega-herbivores that were so synonymous with Gorongosa in its heyday
** Found in the forests of Mount Gorongosa
*** Endemic to the central Mozambique/eastern Zambia & Zimbabwe region
________________________________________

These mammals are currently present in Gorongosa in very limited numbers (or at least they should be!). We hope these populations should increase steadily as the Park becomes recognised as a place of sanctuary for these animals (and with ongoing re-introductions), so we should be seeing more and more in time:

42. ZEBRA *
43. ELAND *
44. KLIPSPRINGER
45. STEENBOK
46. LEOPARD
47. SPOTTED HYENA *
48. WILD DOG

* These species are part of the ongoing re-introduction plan for the Park, particularly focused on increasing
the populations of the mega-herbivores that were so synonymous with Gorongosa in its heyday

________________________________________

There were a number of animals that were present in the Park in the past but were locally extinct (or have not been seen) since the current Park restoration project began.

• CHEETAH: Disappeared in the 1950s – we hope to re-introduce these incredible cats in the near future

• RHINO - both species: Disappeared in the 1950s. There were efforts to re-introduce Rhino in the early
1970s but these were lost during the early years of the civil conflict. There are plans to bring back the
Rhino to Gorongosa.

• ROAN ANTELOPE: Not certain when these highly vulnerable antelope were exterminated but they should
occur in the region.

• SIDE-STRIPED JACKAL: Probably lost to distemper, rabies, mange or a related disease that resulted from
domestic dogs being present in the Park during the conflict years.
________________________________________

Finally there are a number of African savanna animals that were never found in the Gorongosa region. These include GIRAFFE which, for what appears to be a multi-faceted series of reasons (floods, soil type, toxicity of vegetation, disease, etc), was not recorded in Mozambique between the Rovuma River in the north and the Save River in the south. A handful were introduced in the colonial era but these did not survive, furthering the understanding that the Gorongosa region is just not suitable for these classic safari icons.

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Mon May 21, 2012 10:07 am

Sat Feb 11, 2012

The last time I was in Gorongosa was in 2003. Reconstruction had just begun, but is a place I would really like to go back to in the next couple of years. It was an awesome place before the war and with the way it is headed now, will be so once again.
I reckon a great trip would be as follows:
Kruger to Gonarezhou
Gonarezou to the eastern Zimbabwe mountains (Chimanimani)
Through the Moz border at Mutare and on to Inchope which is only about 50 k's from Gorongosa
then down to Vilanculos and the Moz coast for some beach fun, inland through the Trans Limpopo, enter Kruger at Giriyondo and home.
Who's keen?

How about fish, prawns and crayfish straight out of the sea?
You see, this is the problem, there are hundreds of amazing trips that one can put together and unless a person gets off their bums and does them, there will just not be enough time. I reckon I could organise 2 trips per year for the next 10 years and each would be completely different and very out of the ordinary.
Places like Namibia, Lake Malawi, Upper Zambia, Angola, Northern Moz, Tanzania, Kenya. All these places have awesome things to see and do. Sighhhhhhh
Without being disrespectful to our icon, Kruger pales into insignificance compared to some of these places. Here are a few names of parks to visit on these adventures and some of them are not that far away, besides getting there is half of the adventure.

Namibia: Ludertiz, Swakopmund. Damaraland, Koakoveld, Marienflos. Khaudum, Etosha, Caprivi
Malawi: The Malawian Highlands, Lake Malawi, Liwonde National Park
Zambia: Liuwa Plains, Kafue, South Luwangwa, Bangweulu
Zim: Gonarezhou, Mana Pools, Matusadona/Kariba, Hwange
Moz: Gorongosa, Niassa National Reserve and of course it's entire coast line
And then all the famous parks in Tanzania & Kenya

A lot of these places can be combined into one trip as we are doing with this year's Africa Wild Adventure.
You just need the will to do it ( a little extra cash also helps).

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Mon May 21, 2012 10:08 am

Sat Feb 11, 2012

People say Gorongosa has the potential to become one of the best Safari spots in Africa, due to its size and varied habitat. It is very remote, though...

Imagine it could be linked to Banhine, another vast area!? :shock:

According to my family records, the "Yellow Baboon" thing is a myth! They say they are all chacmas.

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Fri Jun 28, 2013 12:38 pm

A Mozambican Lion Story: Working to Save Africa’s Lions

Posted by Bridget Conneely on June 27, 2013

The hot, African sun is rising and Paola Bouley hopes that she can pull this off before sundown. She and park scout Lucas Togarepe zip around Chitengo camp gathering supplies and getting their truck in order. She got news that a lion pride she’s been looking for is nearby and she doesn’t want to lose sight of them before the vet arrives. Hopefully, he’ll make it before sundown because this operation will be much, much trickier once night falls.

Paola is the senior researcher for Projecto Leões da Gorongosa (the Gorongosa Lion Project) in Gorongosa National Park, central Mozambique and a research associate at Princeton University working with Dr. Robert Pringle. Their work is to monitor Gorongosa’s lion population to better understand how to support their full recovery in this unique ecosystem.

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Working closely alongside Gorongosa law-enforcement and scientific staff, Paola’s goal is to document, identify and track every lion encountered. (by Rui Branco)

Gorongosa National Park is a 4,300 sq. km. wilderness at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley. Its mosaic of savanna, grasslands, forests, rivers and lakes are home to an astounding diversity of life and one that Professor E.O. Wilson recently declared is “…ecologically the most diverse park in the world.”

The Gorongosa of the ‘60s and ‘70s was renowned for its lions. Groups of tourists and celebrities visited Gorongosa in their sedans and convertibles to experience its famous floodplains teeming with large game and, more often than not, large prides of lions eyeing their next meal of buffalo or zebra. Gorongosa’s lions of the past even had a favorite hangout spot – the Lion House (aptly named), an abandoned tourist camp that the lions reclaimed in the 1960s as a perfect spot to rest and oversee their hunting grounds on the expansive floodplains.

Then came a 15-year civil war in 1977 and by the time peace returned to the country in 1992 lions were few and far between. Since then a large-scale restoration project in the form of a partnership between the Gorongosa Restoration Project (a U.S. non-profit) and the Government of Mozambique is now restoring the park and its wildlife through a combination of strengthening wildlife protections, scientific research, and reintroductions of zebra, buffalo and wildebeest. While populations are generally struggling across the region, wildlife is actually returning to Gorongosa and researchers are trying to understand the dynamics of an ecosystem undergoing restoration and how the recovery process is affecting both the lions and their prey.

This is where Paola and her team come in. Documenting each of Gorongosa’s lions is part of a larger effort to understand how factors like prey, genetics, disease, illegal bushmeat hunting, and park boundaries are impacting the population. It’s here that science meets boots-on-the-ground conservation to aide in the recovery of Africa’s most important – but highly imperiled – large carnivore.

Today she is especially interested in the Sungue Pride. This pride not only brought good news to Gorongosa recently– five healthy cubs were born late last year – but the male (and father of the cubs) is now mature enough to satellite-collar.

It’s now 09:30AM and Paola’s truck approaches the Sungue Pride sheltered from the baking heat under acacias. Her task is to sit quietly with the pride and not lose them until the park wildlife vet, Rui Branco, arrives to meet her. The plan is to safely tranquilize and satellite-collar the male lion nicknamed “M02.” This will allow them to track not only his whereabouts and document his range, but also that of the whole pride. This will be the first lion satellite-collared in the history of Gorongosa’s restoration efforts and it will provide the team with a wealth of information about one of the park’s core prides.

The sun begins to sink lower in the sky and the lion cubs awake and begin to play and rouse their parents from sleep. Luckily, just in time, a Land Rover rounds the corner with Rui, Greg Carr and the Gorongosa film crew ready to document the collaring operation. The team quickly gathers, forges a plan and cautiously moves into place for Rui to get a clear shot with his dart gun. The sun is just setting as the tranquilizer-dart is deployed.

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Greg Carr stands on watch for the rest of the pride as Paola and Rui work on the tranquilized male lion. (by James Byrne)

A few hair-raising minutes later M02 is safely asleep and the team has secured a safe space to work, separated from the rest of the pride. They work quickly to fit the satellite collar and monitor M02′s vitals before he awakes. The team watches over him from the safety of their vehicles as M02 begins to raise his head and slowly regain his footing. Several hours of close monitoring later and just after midnight, the male saunters off into the bush. Rui and Paola are confident that he’s doing well and they return to camp exhilarated and exhausted. They have successfully fitted the first collar ever deployed on a Gorongosa lion, and the first of more scheduled in the months ahead.

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Paola and Rui with the Sungue male finally satellite-collared (by James Byrne)

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Finding lions in a wild landscape like Gorongosa requires many painstaking days and nights of searching and listening. Here Fernando Mequicene, Paola and Rui track the newly collared “M02.” (by Bob Poole)

While the collaring operation was one of the team’s main goals in April (along with identifying new lions) there was another impetus for being in Gorongosa so early in the season. Each year, the park’s science department organizes an expedition to a different part of the park to survey the area’s biodiversity. A team of a dozen or so scientists studying everything from dung beetles to lions are flown in from all over the world for a 3-week intensive survey of the plants and animals of the region. This year, the survey took place on the Cheringoma Plateau on the eastern side of Gorongosa National Park and southern-most part of the great African Rift Valley. The stunning limestone gorges that plummet down to lush riverine forest and an unexplored cave system make this place every scientist’s dream.

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Paola Bouley sitting atop the limestone gorges during the 2013 Biodiversity Survey (Ilze Wagenaar)

The Projecto Leões team joined the expedition to survey the plateau for all large mammal species, including lions, leopard and hyena. Both leopard and hyena have been incredibly elusive in Gorongosa and very little is known about their populations yet.

High-humidity, incessant mosquitoes and tsetse flies aside, the timing of the expedition was not quite ideal for studying large mammals. April is the end of the rainy season in Southern Africa and the grass is tall and thick, visibility is extremely low, and wildlife is spread out along the still-flowing waterways. But using a combination of traditional tracking techniques in combination with photos from remote cameras, they successfully documented two-dozen large-mammal species, including lion, hyena, zebra and elephant. No sign of the elusive leopards were found yet, although Paola is confident they are there and it’s only a matter of time and effort before they confirm their presence. The team will be back on the plateau over the dry winter months to attempt to collar lions and document hyena and leopard. The grasses will be burnt, affording more visibility and animals will concentrate around dwindling waterholes making them easier to find and observe.

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The first hyena sighting in decades in Gorongosa was captured by a trail camera in August 2012. (Alan Short, Tongai Castigo, Luis Olivera – GNP Scientific Services)

The story of Gorongosa’s lions and the battle to save them is one echoed across the species’ entire range. A mere 25-30,000 lions remain in the wild in Africa– down from at least 150,000 only 150 years ago. Recently released studies estimate that 50% of remaining populations could disappear in just 40 years unless urgent action is taken.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com ... cas-lions/

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:57 pm

Very good to see that activity continues there! \O

Immense potential, but times are bad in Moz now! O/

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Sun Jun 30, 2013 4:36 pm

seems to be very interesting \O
... but Mozambic is not so... constant 0*\

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:25 am

Check out the article on Renamo activity in 'News - General'

Not a happy situation unfortunately 0*\ Not good for tourism
but what will become of the animals that have been so lovingly
re-instated into Gorongosa after the war O/ O/

Re: Gorongosa National Park

Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:04 am

Very bad news! :-(