Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mozambique - Africa's new hunting prospect

Hunting in Mozambique
Mozambique, as with many other colonial countries, suffered the typical African circumstances until the early nineties when the civil war eventually ended and peace was declared.
Originally an Arab trade route for Gold, Slaves and Ivory, Vasco Da Gama claimed the territory for Portugal around 1498 when they dispatched the Arab Sultan at Sofala. Portuguese control of Mozambique was further solidified under various colonial treaties, boundary negotiations and an influx of Portuguese settlers after the second world war.
In 1969 after a 10 year guerilla style struggle, Mozambique was given to the communistic freedom fighters group called Freelimo and Samora Machel became the first black president. However the neighboring 'white states' of Rhodesia and South Africa saw Mozambique, sympathetic to black resistance movements in those 2 countries, as a threat and thus started a 16 year civil war backing a resistance group called Renamo. Both sides used the wildlife to fund their military operations and feed their troops. However the most enduring aspect about this war was the use and deployment of millions upon millions of anti personnel mines across the great wilderness of the country.
I visited the country soon after peace was declared in 1992, driving along sections of the magnificent coastline and deeply wooded bushveld yet could not escape the vestiges of this war, most evident in the eyes of the people you'd meet, most of them friendly yet in their gaze you'd see exhaustion and disbelief, most of them ragged, worn out and maimed physically and mentally from this pointless struggle.
My clearest perceptions of Mozambique just after the war was a country destroyed and during the 4 days that I drove through here the only wildlife I saw were the red duikers and the tiny suni's strapped to the handlebars of bicycles and roofs of clapped out cars. Even the birds seemed scarce and at that time I thought Mozambique was finished.
Today Mozambique's safari hunting set up has drawn interest from all as more and more large trophies are being taken while the safety aspect has all but disappeared from everyone's mind. Under tremendous financial support from the west, Mozambique is emerging as one of Africa's diamonds and the protection and conservation of her wilderness has benefited from a more or less tried and tested African system.
Understanding the hunting set-up here is difficult at best as no one seems to know who owns what concession nor how they came to have it and further still more than one operator lays claim to the same area. What this means is that often permits are not in line with government requirements thus meaning your trophies are in jeopardy of never seeing your home country.
However of late, the division of Wildlife seems to have sorted out the vague ownership issues by granting firm lease agreements to Safari Operators in that country and allowing them to pretty much get on with conservation and a managed system of wildlife utilization.
Today there are vast unfenced tracts of hunting land under private control and management and these are your best hunting bet - remember the country is still recovering from the effects of the civil war but there are pockets of wilderness where the hunting is as good if not better than anywhere else on the continent.
What you get in Mozambique is the feeling of true remote hunting, many parts of the country are still being resettled and it is witout a doubt one of the first you should consider if you're into the more adventurous true African type of safari. Costs are not overinflated yet and if you choose a legitimate operator you'll get the real deal!