We called Greg Carr the other day to talk about the spread of the coronavirus in Africa. Carr, who has been featured in Nautilus, is the founder of the Gorongosa Restoration Project, a partnership with the Mozambique government to revive Gorongosa National Park, that environmental treasure trove at the southern end of the Rift Valley. The 1,500 square-mile park, about the size of Rhode Island, was first given animal refuge status in the 1920s by the Portuguese, and for years was a favorite of European tourists. But in 1983 civil war broke out and the park became a no-man’s land. The place was poached to death, closed up, and didn’t reopen until 1992.
Renewal began in 2004 and in 2008 the government signed a restoration agreement with Carr’s foundation. The agreement, which lasts through 2043, envisions a “human rights park” that will restore both ecosystems and economic vitality. After 11 years of rebuilding infrastructure, reintroducing animals, including hippos and wildebeests, and working with local communities, Gorongosa is thriving again. The park now serves as a model for future conservation. Today some 200,000 people live around the park in a “sustainable development zone” that includes education, employment opportunities, and health service. About 700 people have full-time jobs in the park; another 300 are part time. Naturalist E.O. Wilson calls Gorongosa “a window on eternity.”
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