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Threatened African wildlife haven


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 400 km off its coast across the Mozambique channel.

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.

What wildlife does Mozambique support

Mozambique vast and varied landscapes harbour an array of species. They range from well-known charismatic mammals such as African wild dog, lion and savannah elephant to obscure reptiles and amphibians including the Mecula girdled lizard and the recently rediscovered cave squeaker frog.

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’s biodiversity is.

Mozambique’s elephants have suffered from some of the highest rates of poaching for ivory trafficking in the world. Rhinos have been completely wiped out, with the country’s last individuals killed by poachers in 2013.

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. This 42,000-km2 mosaic of miombo woodland, meandering rivers and majestic inselbergs harbours 40% of Mozambique’s entire elephant population, plus 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 succeeded in halting declines in the reserve’s wildlife populations after years of conservation neglect.

When an exponential rise in ivory poaching and a surge in illegal mining and logging threatened to undermine a decade of conservation success, 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. This ‘reserve within a reserve’ covers over 5,000 square kilometres, and serves as a blueprint for effective conservation management throughout the rest of Niassa.

Fauna & Flora is also supporting local efforts to protect Chimanimani National Park and its globally important biodiversity. Straddling the border with Zimbabwe, this spectacular mountain landscape may well be one of southern Africa’s best-kept secrets. Renowned among botanists as a plant hotspot, it also a vital watershed on which millions of people depend.

More about our work in Mozambique

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Elephant family. © John Michael Vosloo / Shutterstock

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