They used hunted there; now, we protect. The Limpopo National Park was established in 2001 by the Government of Mozambique on the territory of an old hunting concession. This vast territory of over 11,000 km² is part of a larger transboundary park - the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) that includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Gonarezhou Park in Zimbabwe.
The creation of the GLTP and the partial removal of the barrier at the border between Mozambique and South Africa have facilitated the free movement of wildlife between the two parks. This made it possible to repopulate the Limpopo National Park, whose fauna was decimated by the civil war that ravaged Mozambique between 1977 and 1992. The end of the war also encouraged people to settle back in the park, leading to conflict between its new inhabitants and wild animals.
In 2007, AFD joined the German development Bank KFW, the World Bank and the South African Peace Parks Foundation to support the development plan of Limpopo National Park. AFD's EUR 11 million grant is aimed primarily at restoring and preserving the park's biodiversity while improving the daily lives of people living in the area. From this balance between economic development and nature conservation depends the sustainability of the Limpopo National Park.
AFD contributed to build part of the 56 km-long fence that separates the park’s Core Zone from the Support Zone. By restricting access into the Core Zone, the fence supports conservation and acts as the primary barrier against human–wildlife conflict.
In order to help reach the park’s tourism ambitions of increasing annual visitors from the current 10,000 to 59,000 by 2037, AFD helped improve 350 km of roads and built self-catering accommodation (campsites, 4x4 sites and chalets) and reception areas for tourists.
Finally, AFD played an important role in developing Mozambique’s institutional framework, in conjunction with other donors involved in biodiversity interventions – through the 2014 law on protected areas, the clarification of the mechanisms for distributing the revenues from tourism generated by the park, and the setting up the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC).
A recent evaluation of the Limpopo National Park project found that although AFD contributed to preserving the ecological integrity of the park, develop tourism and build the capacity of the park’s administration, more needs to be done in order to realise the park’s ambitious plan to be fully sustainable through tourism-generated income. More tourism concessions need to be granted , the capacity of community-based organisations to manage the revenue received from tourism need to be strengthened, as well as their awareness of wildlife conservation.
The Limpopo National Park is a great example of AFD’s approach to balancing conservation objectives with the need for economic development. Ultimately, this approach will help achieve the Limpopo National Park Development Plan’s objective to preserve ecological processes within a transfrontier conservation area at the same time as contributing to the wellbeing of the population of Mozambique.