On December 11, 2002, former minister of environment affairs and tourism, Valli Moosa, and his Mozambican counterpart, Fernando Sumbana, cut a short section of the fence that divides the Kruger and Limpopo National Parks to symbolise the official establishment of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
The fence-cutting ceremony followed days after the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe met in the small town of Xai-Xai to sign an official treaty that proclaimed the 35 000km2 transfrontier park - which is the biggest transfrontier conservation park in the world. The GLTP is regarded as part of a bigger conservation area, measuring almost 100 000km2.
In 2001, the eyes of the world were focused on the GLTP when 25 elephants were translocated and coined by the media as "Madiba's loboloa" to the Limpopo National Park (LNP). This group was only a small part of 3 885 animals that had been translocated to the LNP until last year.
The Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Limpopo National Park had been separated by a 353 kilometre fence, of which a 45 kilometre section was taken down to encourage additional animal migration between Kruger and the LNP. In October last year, the Mozambique ministry of tourism asked the KNP to do an aerial survey of the LNP.
According to Dr Ian Whyte, who headed the survey, the team opted to do a total survey of the main game area which is the Shingwedzi River basin from the KNP boundary in the west to the 'escarpment' of the Shingwedzi basin in the east. Research showed that the first elephants released in the LNP initially returned to Kruger.
The October 2006 survey results indicated that while 111 elephants have been translocated, 660 elephants have now found their way to the LNP. Four more white rhino and 127 more buffalo were counted than were originally translocated. While no kudu and nyala were translocated, populations of 273 and 257 respectively, were recorded.
Two groups of sable, suspected to have been resident groups, were counted, bringing the total number to 62. Ian counted smaller impala and zebra groups than those that were translocated with 1234 less impala and 699 less zebra recorded. The team recorded 14 groups of ground hornbill with a total number of 50 individual birds on record.
Different from Kruger, many villages are situated inside the LNP, often on the banks of the main rivers. About 1100 families live on the Shingwedzi river and according to park officials the majority of these families have indicated that they would like to be relocated elsewhere. At present these villages are not fenced in. Ian and his team counted 3142 cattle and 527 goats.
|Total numbers of animals of respective species translocated from Kruger National Park to Limpopo National Park between 2001 and 2006|
|Totals for individual species recorded in Limpopo National Park, Mozambique|