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A wildlife wilderness.


Mozambique is a vast country covering over 800,000 km2 in south-eastern Africa, bordered by six countries and the Indian Ocean. Madagascar lies just 419 km off its coast across the Mozambique channel.

Lake Niassa (also known as Lake Malawi) is thought to harbour over 600 endemic species of fish, while biodiversity is also high along the coast and in the mountains in the north and east of the country.

New species are frequently discovered in Mozambique, highlighting just how diverse and understudied the country is. A Fauna & Flora survey in Niassa Reserve, for example, led to the discovery of the Mecula girdled lizard (Cordylus maculae), while a number of butterfly, snake and plant species were also discovered in 2008 on Mount Mabu.

After independence from Portugal, Mozambique suffered a civil war that ended in 1992, and from which it is still recovering, with poverty still widespread. Most of Mozambique’s people live in the coastal regions while the hinterland generally has low population densities.

Mozambique’s elephants are suffering from some of the highest rates of poaching for ivory trafficking in the world. Vast numbers have been killed, with over half suspected to have been lost within the last five years. Rhinos have been completely wiped out, with the country’s last individuals sadly killed by poachers in 201

Our work to protect Mozambique’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora has been working in Mozambique since 2002, supporting the effective management of the Niassa National Reserve, a 42,000 km2 mosaic of miombo woodland, meandering rivers and majestic inselbergs that harbours 40% of Mozambique’s entire elephant population, not to mention impressive numbers of sable antelope, Cape buffalo and Crawshay’s zebra. The reserve is also one of the continent’s most important refuges for lions and African wild dogs.

Between 2002 and 2012, together with our partner Sociedade para Gestão e Desenvolvimento da Reserva do Niassa (SGDRN), we made tremendous strides towards halting declines in the reserve’s wildlife populations after years of conservation neglect.

Regrettably, the end of SGDRN’s management tenure at Niassa coincided with an exponential rise in ivory poaching and a surge in illegal mining and logging, leaving a decade of conservation success in danger of unravelling.

Swift intervention was needed, so we took the strategic decision to secure a key area of the reserve, Chuilexi Conservancy, which is home to the most significant concentrations of wildlife in Niassa but is also facing the most severe level of threat. This ‘reserve within a reserve’ covers over 5,000 square kilometres, and could serve as a blueprint for effective conservation management throughout the rest of Niassa.

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