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Northern Mozambique as a new safari destination

Old Apr 17th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Northern Mozambique as a new safari destination

While I was eating lunch at my desk, I did some websurfing about northen Mozambique as I am thinking of combining that with a Tanzania safari in 2007.

I have read that there are some new safari camps, such as Rani's Lugenda opening soon. Unfortunately, I did not find much information on that, but did find this disturbing pictures which took away my appetite:

Does anyone know details about the Luwire/Niassa reserves in Northern Mozambique?
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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Unfortunately, trophy hunting is a fact of life in all of Africa, and it is not very far removed from just about any photosafari destination you will visit. Typically, the trophy hunting locations even locate themselves right next to the national parks to take advantage of the animals natural migratory routes, or worse yet, to even lure them away from the national parks.

I do think it is great that Rani Resorts has taken the lead, investing what must be a huge amount of time and money, to start their photosafari lodge, Lugenda Bush Camp:

If Lugenda Bush Camp is supported by paying customers, it will just serve as motivation for either Rani Resorts to expand their traversing area, possibly opening another camp, or for other photosafari companies to also move into the LUWIRE (Lugenda Wildlife Reserve).

I have been trying my best to see how I can get myself up to Lugenda in the near future as it is an area teeming with elephants and wild dogs, amongst a wealth of other wildlife.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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Hi Roccco-
Yes, I know what you are saying is true about the proximity of the hunting concessions to many photosafari was just that those pictures of the dead leopard and the elephant ivories made me really disgusted and angry. What I did find elucidating about that website though was the fees charged for trophy hunting, including those to the government. As mentioned here before, it would be hard for local governments or guides to give up the large fees from hunting.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 06:35 PM
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Although I find the act of engaging in trophy hunting deplorable, if abuses (such as unreported hunting) are kept to a minimum, I do see where trophy hunting may actually do what it is advertised to do...wildlife conservation.

(And for the record, while there are some photosafari tour operators who double dip or have double dipped in hunting safaris, I will NEVER do any such thing...just don't want my above comments to be confused for anything else).

There have been many cases, thanks to the increased demand for photosafaris, where photosafari concessions have replaced hunting concessions. Phinda Zuka is the most recent well known example that I know of, besides Lugenda Bush Camp. Zuka used to be its own hunting concession bordering Phinda...while each was likely fenced, that was good news if you were an animal living in Phinda but very bad news if you were an animal living in Zuka.

Fortunately, however, due to the major success of Phinda (a CCAfrica camp that owes much of its success to the current managing director of Kwando, Kevin Leo Smith), Phinda was able to buy out Zuka, tear down the fence and nearly double its land holding, all while wiping out trophy hunting in the Zuka concession.

The Sabi Sand at one time was primarily trophy hunting but now it is one of the greatest reserves in Africa to see wildlife especially the "Big Five" and this is likely no coincidence as the term Big Five takes its origins from hunting.

I cannot tell you where I have read it, but I have read that there are more wildebeest and lions in Tanzania now than there have been since their populations were first accurately recorded decades ago.

Also, while Kenya does not allow trophy hunting, I do believe that their wildlife populations have actually fallen significantly since the hunting ban went into effect 20? years ago. Without the hunting, the poaching activities have skyrocketed.

It would be a beautiful thing if all trophy hunters would turn in their big rifles for a heart or at least a big camera, but until they do, the trophy hunting concessions are still seemingly better able to preserve the wildlife populations than nothing at all, as this would expose such areas to rampant poaching.
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Old Apr 17th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Although I am not a hunter, I come from a family in which many relatives and ancestors did so whenever and as often as they could. The good news is that they were also supportes of almost any conservation measure to come down the pike, as they wanted to be sure that their source of prey was protected. They also paid large fees for the privilege of killing an animal or two, which in turn was used to enhance wildlife habitat (as well as pay rangers to prevent poaching, which occurs in the western united states just as anywhere else in the world). I would be just as happy if trophy hunting were banned everywhere, but as this is unlikely to happen, I think the best we can do is work toward balance (and use those big fees to increase the number of areas where these animals can exist without daily threats to either their habitat from encroaching people, or poaching hunters). Too bad there isn't a "catch and release" program for hunters like there is for fishermen - maybe large calibur dart guns with enuf anisthetic to drop that elephant, take your photo, measure the tusks, etc. Then go home and have a plastic mount prepared instead of a skin mount - that's what is done with big fish these days....
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 04:17 AM
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Love the fish analogy.
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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I stayed at Manda Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Malawi in northern Mozambique. It is a unique and incredibly beautiful spot.
We came by boat from Likoma island in Malawi, but others came from Lichinga in Moz.
The game was decimated up there durign the civil war and altho there are hopes of getting it back, I think it is early days for that.. .
But the lake is a great reason to go in itself and the lodge might be the nicest place i've seen in Africa. And it is also a unique partnership with the communtiy there.
We felt like we were in a french movie, sipping wine and wonderful dinners on an amazingly wild deserted beach. . .

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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I would like to provide some background on this wonderful area. I was fortunate to be involved in the resurection of this park after the war. The real hero here is unsung. A private individual, Halvar Astrup, agreed to donate $1m a year for 10 years - if this park could become self financing within this time. This was done as Fauna Bravia (Parks Board) of Mozambique had no money at all to look after this park.

The Park was regressing quickly and was likely to end up dissapearing within the 10 year horizon. A group of people finanaced by Halvor lead this effort in the mid 90's - Phillip Nel together with Nigel Pollard were among the most committed. Phillip was a farmer and hunter from Zambia but then living in South Africa. Nigel was based in Maputo running a large agri-business company called Grupo Madal.

To get to this area took 2 days of flying in a light aircraft and more than a week by vehicle. The area that was still wild exceeded 3 million hectares (the Kruger Park with the private reserves is 2m). However the official area was less than half of this area. There were 6 game guards living at Mount Mercula the 5 000 ft inselberg in the centre of the area. There were about 10 000 people living in this area too. The guards spent 6 days a month walking to Luchinga to get their pay. The nearest shops took 3 days to reach!!. I provide all this so you can get some idea of the challenge.

I was contracted by Halvor, Phillip and Nigel to produce a feasible plan to "sell" to fauna Bravia to save the reserve. Halvor would only start if it was officially supported by the authorities including the cabinet. After a lot of effort this was achieved around 1997.

The plan called for strict zoning of the area into a core wilderness area of about 1.5m ha, potential photo tourism area of about 0.5m ha and a hunting buffer zone along the eastern banks of the Lugenda river of 1m ha.

This plan was conceived as we knew that the ONLY people who would make the pilgrimage to the Niassa Reserve, at this early stage, would be hunters. What is more they would pay enough, if the results were good, to make the park self financing withing 10 years.

During this time we anticipated that the first photo tourism operations would commence with a few brave souls with deep pockets and a great sense of adventure. Well 10 years is 2006 and we have our one brave soul in the form of Rani Resorts. Praise and support for them please.

This is a beautiful area of inselbergs and rivers, forests, savannah's and grasslands and what is more unique sub secies of wildebeet, impala and an abundance of sable and Lichtenstein's hartebeest too. Not to mention the lions, leopard, wild dogs, buffalo and large numbers of elephant (increasing well too).

However for those of you sitting far far away from Africa - you cannot imagine the super human effort and obscene risk the first hunting outfitters braved to get started there in 1997. It is easy to be experts from afar and arm chair critics saying how things should work. Most westerners would not have survived a day under the conditions those outfitters had to live under to get established.

Bottom line this plan worked and 3m ha of exquisitley beautiful African wilderness will survive and thive into the future due to the faith, committment, effort of many and large donation from one exceptional person.

One final thought - who is more qualifed to save Africa - those who lost their wilderness in the developed countries or Africa who still has it in abundance. I think it is time to realise the saviours are often local. Thanks for reading this.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 05:09 PM
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Thanks for providing us the background on the LUWIRE (Lugenda Wildlife Reserve).

I am desperately trying to fit in a visit to both Lugenda Safari Lodge and Medjumbe Island (both Rani Resorts properties) next May/June. This would be in combination with the best camps in Zimbabwe, as I am a firm believer in supporting these areas that are under threat and that others have worked so hard to maintain or to get to a point where photo safaris are even possible (in the case of LUWIRE).
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 09:16 PM
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I too would like to see trophy hunting removed from the face of the earth, but I recognise that it can be a necessary evil. And I think it's unfair in some cases to say photosafari operators 'double dip' in trophy hunting (if it's being used as a derogatory term that is, and it usually is a derogatory term in my country). I believe trophy hunting revenue can subsidise the most desirable form of photo safari operation: i.e, the low intensity one, which has the least adverse effect on the environment and wildlife. Once you lose that revenue, the alternatives are to appeal to the mass market, which increases pressure on the environment (big camps, lots of vehicles), or the high-end luxury market which reduces opportunities for less well-off genuine nature-lovers. Some safari operators understandably detest trophy hunting and will not tolerate it under any circumstances, but others are truly caught "between a rock and a hard place".
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 02:40 AM
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great perspective, much needed, thank you exsafari
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Old Jul 12th, 2006, 09:56 AM
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exsafari: thanks for that great background. You probably know more about this too but there is a great article in the summer June/July issue of National Geographic Adventure (their travel magazine) about Mozambique rising. They feature Gorongosa National Park and it sounds like a similar set up with a millionaire from Idaho named Greg Carr bankrolling the protection and tourism development of that park.

The article also features sea kayaking of the Quimbiras Archapelago. I stayed previously in the Bazaruto Archapelago which was simply paradise. I badly want to go and explore these new parks followed by kayaking the islands -- what a combination.

exsafari: I am a conservation biologist and have some additional interest in the planning you did. If you don't mind please shoot me an email at [email protected]
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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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For an interesting history of professional hunting in Mozambique and other parts of Africa (including Angola, Zaire and yes, Tanzania), the book "Winds of Havoc: A memoir of Adventure and Destruction in Deepest Africa" is very interesting. It is by a Adelino Serras Pires (esteemed 'big game' hunter who is a Mozambican of Portuguese descent) with Fiona Claire Capstick (wife of deceased Peter Capstick - whose tales of big game hunting are very interesting and a great read).

The book details the end of big game hunting in Mozambique due to the persistent civil war, and indeed touches on the terrible consequnces of political unrest on conservation throughout the continent.

While I don't agree with much of his take or his political stance and much of his argument about professional hunting being pro-conservation, it is a fascinating read. I travelled to the Beira Corridor in Mozambique (I worked in int'l development) when the war was still going in the mid-90's and passed by immense former game reserves which were basically off limits because of land mines and so much of the game had been poached off. It was really sad, and I do hope to go back some day to the new reserves that are starting/restarting.

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Old Jul 31st, 2006, 05:53 AM
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A new book recently came out about the first kayak trip down the Lugenda River. There was also an article in Outside Magazine, if you don't want to buy the book.

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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 10:17 AM
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This book is about a trip down the river conceived Cherri Briggs the owner of Explore in Steamboat Springs - undoubtedly the best tour operator to Africa, Rod Wilson and Clinton Phillips two experienced safari guides living in Maun Botswana. Personally I would rather read their version of what happened on this trip but I am sure it would be interesting anyhow.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 11:24 AM
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From what I read in the article, the guy that wrote the article and book was on the trip with the people you mentioned.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:57 PM
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He was on the trip and as I know all the others on the trip well - I know that they all have a very different version of the trip - I may hasten to add a much more intersting one too as they are better observers of life and Africa than he is, both in terms of the poor article he wrote and I understand in the book.

To put is plainly he is a wimp and reduced the pleasure the others could have got from their amazing trip. I saw the video they did of the trip and it was just amazing yet his article was all about himself and not the wilderness. The video just made me want to visit - his article did not.
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Old Nov 27th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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Thought some of you might like to know that there is an article on Mozambique as a safari and beach destination in the New Conde Nast Traveler US edition.
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Old Feb 20th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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Hunting is the purest form of environmentalism. Every hunting safari puts 20 times the amount of money toward the preservation of both the animals hunted and their habitat when compared to a Photo safari. Sport hunters primarily take only the old non-breeding animals out of the game population. To hunt in a fair chase manner a large African mammal and then see every last scrap of the protein from that animal be eaten by the indigenous people of the area is very gratifying.
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 09:50 PM
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Hi all that are interested in northern Mozambique - just to let you know that there is now another photographic safari option in the Niassa Reserve called Moja Safari Wilderness. This is a eco tourism concession that offers walking and canoeing safaris in this amazing wilderness area. Slowly but surely, the reserve will be turned from hunting to photographic, however it needs the support of tourism to ensure that this is viable and sustainable in the long run.
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