U.S. Mogul Pledges $40 Million to Mozambique Park
MAPUTO U.S. Internet mogul Greg Carr has committed up to $40 million of his own cash to help rebuild a game park in Mozambique which he hopes to restock with animals from elsewhere in Africa.
Carr, former chairman of Prodigy Internet and Boston Technology, told Reuters on Friday he wanted Gorongosa National Park in central Mozambique to recapture its place as a leading eco-tourism destination in southern Africa.
The park, which lies at the southern end of Africa's Rift Valley, was largely destroyed during Mozambique's 16-year civil war that ended in 1992.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Carr Foundation has managed the 3,770 sq km (1,455 sq mile) park for a year under an agreement with the government, which it is seeking to extend to at least 30 years, wildlife conservationists say.
"I have committed personal funds in excess of $30-to-$40 million (to develop the park)," Carr told Reuters in an interview.
He said he was looking for other foreign partners to fund the park, which is also supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
"Gorongosa has the potential of being one of Africa's most important tourism destinations," said Carr, whose foundation dedicated to human rights, the environment and the arts was created in 1999.
"This year we will begin a re-introduction programme to bring some animals to the park, so once again the ecosystem can be complete," he said.
Rehabilitating the park -- including construction of a 6,000 hectare (23 square mile) sanctuary where animals are expected to breed -- will be concluded by the end of rainy season in March.
The Carr Foundation is in talks with animal relocation companies in Africa to source some species in Mozambique and neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, he said.
"The good news is that there are a lot of animals now. We have almost 300 elephants, we do have a lot of antelope and fabulous bird life," Carr said.
"For tourists there is a lot to see now but there are still some other species that are in very low numbers such as buffalo and zebra," he added.
Sadly though, animals such as roan antelope, cheetah and black rhino which once inhabited Gorongosa were no longer to be found, Mozambican wildlife officials said.
Mozambique has undertaken a programme to improve infrastructure in its parks as well as increase animal numbers in some areas substantially diminished by poaching and the civil war -- in an operation that has usually included moving transferring animals from other existing facilities.
Since 2002, Mozambique has transferred some 5,000 different animals to the Limpopo National Park, one of its newer animal reserves.
At least another 2,500 animals have been transferred from the adjacent Kruger National Park in South Africa to Limpopo -- part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that straddles Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In the last four years, Mozambique, which has dedicated some 15 percent of its total area to conservation regions, has created two national parks and two reserves.