The Lubombo TFCA is a cornerstone to the consolidation of the last naturally occurring elephant populations of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa, and southern Mozambique, which historically moved freely across the border. PHOTO: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Transfrontier conservation group Peace Parks Foundation said on Friday it had signed a partnership agreement with Mozambique to support the management and development of the Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in the southern part of the country.

It said the agreement was based on a strategic business plan, developed by both partners, and initial funding of $16 million donated by the Reinet Foundation, the Wyss Foundation and other private donors. The World Bank funded MozBio programme was also investing into the development.

Peace Parks will provide technical and financial support for conservation and tourism development activities, which will entail merging the two reserves into one management structure. The adjacent reserves border South Africa’s Tembe Elephant Park and World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and are all part of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

The agreement was signed by PPF CEO Werner Myburgh and Mozambique's minister of land, environment and rural development Celso Correia. PHOTO: Supplied

"The purpose of these agreements is to protect large ecosystems by connecting protected areas to the benefit of both people and nature," Peace Parks Foundation CEO Werner Myburgh said.

"The Elephant Coast, one of the few protected areas in Africa where elephants occur in a park bordering the ocean, has the potential to become Mozambique’s premier eco-tourist destination. This is also the first marine transfrontier conservation area in Africa, jointly managed by Mozambique and South Africa."

The partnership is the second that Peace Parks Foundation has signed with the Mozambique government after one in 2015 to help develop Zinave National Park as an integral component of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. 

Maputo Special Reserve is part of one of the world's 36 biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions, and is an important component in the protected areas system of Mozambique, combining 1,040 square kilometres of coastal lakes, wetlands, swamp forests, grasslands and mangrove forests.

The agreement was signed by PPF CEO Werner Myburgh and Mozambique's minister of land, environment and rural development Celso Correia. PHOTO: Supplied

The marine reserve component stretches across 678 square km and is the most important leatherback and loggerhead turtle nesting ground along the entire 2,800 km Mozambican coastline, with more than 1,000 turtles coming to nest on these shores every year.

Together with the neighbouring iSimangaliso Wetland Park it forms Africa’s first marine transfrontier conservation area.

More than a 1000 endangered turtles nest along the shore of the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve each year. PHOTO: Supplied

- African News Agency (ANA)