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A leopard has been spotted in Gorongosa National Park for the first time in 14 years. The big cat was caught on camera for a few seconds only ten minutes away from the camp by a group visiting the Mozambican park.
The species had not been spotted in the region for at least 14 years. But on the night of Thursday March 29, a small group of guides and visitors were surprised to see a leopard on their game drive in the park, the passage through the bush of one of the most agile and feared predators in Africa recorded for just a few brief moments.
The news was quickly relayed by park officials to their main supporter and financier, the American Gregory Carr, who quickly published the information and images on social networks.
“Tonight, this leopard was seen by our guides and guests just ten minutes from the Chitengo Camp in Gorongosa. It is the first time in 14 years that we have seen leopard in the southern part of the park. A wonderful sign that the ecosystem is healthy,” Carr wrote in posts,along with images captured by Zander Beetge.
For some time now, park guards have suspected the presence of leopard in the area, but despite suspicions and some slight traces, the animal remained unseen until last week.
Last night, this leopard was spotted by our Guides and some guests, 10 minutes from Chitengo Camp. It is the first time in 14 years we have seen a leopard in the southern part of the Park. Such a wonderful sign that the ecosystem is healing! Thanks for capturing this video , @zseyez ~~~ #conservation #everydayafricaafrica #wildlifeconservation #naturelovers #endextinction #antipoaching #travelafrica #africasafari #mozambiquesafaris #exploreafrica #leopard #capturethewild #igs_africa #africanamazing #instawild #ig_mozambique #conservationmatters #bigcat #bigcatsofinstagram
The sighting is seen as another sign of the successful wildlife repopulation of the park over recent years.
Located in the Sofala province of central Mozambique, Gorongosa was once one of the most important wildlife parks on the African continent, with one of its densest and most diverse wildlife populations, but the civil war in Mozambique which started in 1981 destroyed almost 95 percent of it for more than a decade.
During this period, the park was abandoned and became a haven for guerrillas, and the scene of many battles and attacks. The population of large mammals was decimated, especially elephant slaughtered for ivory to finance the guerrilla war and lions, killed in sport hunting or dying of hunger after the disappearance of their prey.
Among the other victims were zebra, horse-ox and buffalo, a problem compounded by poaching. Less affected were the bird communities, with more than 400 species surviving intact.
A slow but successful recovery
Plans to recover Gorongosa began to be drawn up in 1995, but the biggest push came in 2008, when the Mozambican government received support from the Carr Foundation, a north-American non-profit organisation by entrepreneur and philanthropist Gregory Carr, who made a fortune in IT and was one of the pioneers of voice mail.
The Foundation has financed the regeneration of Gorongosa with investments of about US$40 million and a long-term commitment to repopulating the region with species that have disappeared or were decimated in recent years. In addition, effort have been made to promote tourism in the area, along with research in a location known for having some of the richest biodiversity in the world.
Several documentaries have been devoted to the park’s regeneration, including one by National Geographic called “Gorongosa: Rebirth of Paradise – Africa’s Wild Kingdom Reborn”.
The park, which is open to visitors and organises safaris between April and November (it closes for the mid-December to end-of-March rainy season), maintains a reserved area called the sanctuary, where animal species, the very survival of some of which has depended on thesa initiatives, are looked after pending release for restocking.Source: Observador