7 days in Mozambique

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bowji john

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Mar 24, 2015
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7 days in Mozambique


Foreword


I was privileged to share a typical week in the life of the staff of Coutada 9. Though the characters and technologies change over the decades, the challenges for Africa remain the same. This is a tale as old as time. It is a tale of huge personal dedication against almost impossible odds.

Coutada 9

Coutada is a Portuguese word given to hunting and conservation game reserves that were set up by the Portuguese Authorities prior to the civil war and subsequently Mozambique independence. These reserves have been continued by the current Mozambican Government.


There are 13 Coutadas situated in Mozambique – a wild and poverty-stricken area with limited access. Most routes are via dirt roads, periodically graded by the government. Vehicles are largely over-laden trucks that cause damage to the road surfaces; and private 4x4s. Some tarmac does exist but is often so potholed that vehicles drive on the dirt strips either side of the cratered blacktop.

Coutadas are run by individuals or groups of individuals from around the world, all of whom share a deep love of the wildlife and a dedication to its conservation.

There is some income derived from tourism but the almost endless running costs come out of the pockets of these dedicated few. Currently the only tourist activity that comes even close to making the coutadas pay their way is hunting.

Unlike many of the game parks of Southern Africa, this is unfenced wild country. Much of the country’s game was eliminated during the civil war a few decades ago; however, pockets remained – particularly in the coutadas. Those populations formed the basis of the success stories we see today.

Coutada 9 is situated in the Manica Province. It is run by half a dozen private citizens whose partnership has (at considerable personal cost) brought a desolate million acre reserve into one now teeming with buck, antelope, elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, wart hog and baboon.

Under Government law, Coutada concessionaires are contractually obliged to:

· Control poaching
· Employ local staff
· Bring in paying guests – 25% of the revenue going to local community and a further 25% to central
Government
· Provide the local community with fresh meat
· Maintain and develop a healthy wildlife population

The million acres of Coutada 9 comprises an inner 500 thousand acres into which no one is allowed unless engaged on official business. The outer ring, the other half a million acres, allows some settlement and light agriculture.

Slash and burn practices are strictly prohibited. Poaching and trapping attracts a jail sentence.

Locals rear chickens and goats, but cattle do not fare well as this is a tsetse fly area and cattle succumb to trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). For this reason, the reserve is obliged to supply the local population with a sustainable source of fresh meat. Fresh meat is highly prized amongst the locals and were it not supplied by the owners, poaching would be worse than it currently is.

The reserves are in a constant battle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local population in order to minimise the impact of these illegal practices.

Interested in reading more?

You will have to download the subsequent PDFs (if I can make them work)

or

go to www.oakview-consultants.com