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Recovery of a lion stronghold

Recovery of a lion stronghold

Gorongosa's lion population is at the core of a greater ecosystem recovery taking
Gorongosa's lion population is at the core of a greater ecosystem recovery taking
PAOLA BOULEY, Director, Projecto Leões da Gorongosa


BY : PAOLA BOULEY, Director, Projecto Leões da Gorongosa

 Alluring, potent, irrevocable – this is Gorongosa National Park – a resilient wilderness, home to central Mozambique’s famed population of African lion and the focus of one of the most ambitious wildlife restoration efforts ever undertaken.

 Based in the heart of Gorongosa National Park, Projecto Leões da Gorongosa (Gorongosa Lion Project) was launched in 2013 and operates under the umbrella of the Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP), a 25-year collaborative agreement between the US-based Gregory C. Carr Foundation and the government of Mozambique. The Park's revival is a testament to what is possible when people from across the world join forces; the Park today teems with wildlife big and small and one can encounter lion daily.

 Sadly, the African lion remains in big trouble across the continent due to conflict, poaching and loss of habitat; wild populations are only 10% of of those 100 years ago. Rapid intervention is needed to keep these cats roaming wild and free. In Gorongosa, GRP and Projecto Leões work tirelessly to hold the line against extinction and ensure that these magnificent animals have their rightful place here into the foreseeable future.

 Conservation is no easy task in this wilderness. The Park itself forms only one tenth of the greater surrounding ecosystem which itself spans an area twice the size of Kruger National Park. Some of the most uncharted and hard-to-reach wild areas are also home to growing human communities. Yet the region's biological wealth makes it a place like no other.

 The highest points on Mt Gorongosa are crowned with tropical rainforest; below span miles of open floodplain buffer that cradle a vast lake surrounded by grasslands and forests. Chitengo Camp, the main camp, bustles with tourists, scientists, explorers, film-makers, and the many charged with the task of restoring the Park.

In just three years this lion team has documented more lion in 20% of the area of the Park than was previously estimated for the entire Park. In addition to intensive ecological investigations, satellite collaring and collaboration with anti-poaching, it operates an array of field cameras called WildCam Gorongosa accessible to anyone on the planet wanting to help identify the diversity of life here. The project strongly focuses on nurturing the next generation of lion scientists and conservationists, including the first women from Mozambique to ever work hands-on with lion in the wild.