Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, located in Sofala Province in the central part of the country, is about to expand with the likely conversion of an adjacent game park into an area of total protection.

According to a report in the Maputo daily Noticias here Sunday, the management of the Gorongosa Park has signed an agreement with the Portuguese Entreposto group which runs the game park, known as Coutada 12.

This former hunting area covers 200,000 hectares. Under the agreement, the Gorongosa Park and Entreposto will undertake joint work of ecological assessment, surveys with the local population and an analysis of the tourism potential of Coutada 12.

This will culminate with a proposal to the government for the incorporation of Coutada 12 into the Gorongosa National Park. Only the government has the power to change the boundaries of protected areas.

Gorongosa Park administrator Mateus Mutemba said all that has been done over the past decade to revive and restock Gorongosa, after its wildlife was decimated during the war of destabilization, could be replicated in Coutada 12. This would mean involving the local population in conservation efforts, providing jobs for local people, undertaking scientific research, and developing tourism.

Greg Carr, the American philanthropist who has been one of the driving forces behind the recovery of Gorongosa, stressed the importance of providing wildlife with a protected corridor through Coutada 12.

“We don’t want to imprison wildlife in the Gorongosa Park. We don’t want to be like other parks in Africa whose area is continually shrinking,” he said.

Pedro Palhinha, the chairperson of the Entreposto Group, recalled that, before becoming a protected area, what is now the Gorongosa National Park had been a hunting reserve owned by Entreposto’s predecessor, the Companhia de Mocambique (Mozambique Company). He said it was “an honour to be associated with this new phase of the Gorongosa Park”.