Healing the battle scars

Published: Thursday 31 December 1998

Once upon a time, the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was a healthy green forest filled with wildlife, and enjoyed the distinction of being the country's most biologically-diverse park. But 17 years of intense civil war has changed all that. During the war, Renamo - the National Resistance of Mozambique, backed by the US and South Africa - made Gorongosa their headquarters. Government and resistance soldiers not only burned vegetation and razed park buildings to the ground as they fought but also ate much of the park's wildlife. White rhinos, once abundant, became extinct locally. Renamo soldiers poached elephant ivory and rhino horn to trade ' for guns. Renamo also cleared park land to grow food for their troops and train their soldiers. Today, Gorongosa's once-rich wildlife has been replaced by starving humans marooned amidst war debris on a scorched piece of land laden with land mines. However, park managers are working with park's new human inhabitants, fighting off poachers and slowly re-introducing wildlife to restore the park to its former glory (Earth News, Vol 12, No 122).

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