Mozambique, known more for its beaches and islands, is not on many safari-goers minds when thinking of a wildlife safari in Africa, and with horror stories of the civil war destroying what wildlife there was in the country, visitors are reluctant to put the parks of Mozambique on their wish lists.
Niassa – the forgotten wilderness
In the days of Portuguese colonial rule Gorongasa reserve in the central region of Mozambique was the country’s flagship game park, and was even considered one of the best parks in Africa, but with the onset of civil war all changed. Gorongosa was at the heart of the war and the wildlife in the park was virtually wiped out.
This happened in most of the parks and reserves of Mozambique, except for the far north where the ravages of war were not felt due to its remoteness. The 42 000 km2 Niassa Game Reserve was left untouched by the two decades civil war and the wildlife numbers remained constant.
Today the reserve is still remote and difficult to access but a few hardy entrepreneurs have set up tourist operations in the area and rightly promote it as one of the last true wilderness experiences left in Africa.
Niassa is home to prolific wildlife, including more than 10 000 Elephants and more than 200 of the critically endangered African Wild Dog. Leopards, Lions and Hyenas are common with big numbers of herbivores present including three endemic species, Boehms Zebra, Johnstons Impala and Niassa Wildebeest.
Expanding into an African colossus
Named for its location near Lake Niassa, better known as Lake Malawi, the park is set to expand when new legislation extends the boundaries of the reserve. Situated on the Rovuma River, the boundary between Mozambique and Tanzania, Niassa Reserve is part of the proposed Selous – Niassa Wildlife Protection Corridor which links the vast conservation areas of northern Mozambique with the untamed wilderness of southern Tanzania. This wilderness area will become the largest protected wildlife park on Earth.
The future of Niassa Reserve is secure and with more funding for greater protection it is not far-fetched to state that the park may become the most sought after safari destination in Africa.