Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.
Wildlife knows no boundaries. So AWF has defined areas across the continent that are critical to conservation. These Priority Landscapes can cover public and private lands alike and often cross borders.
9,460,538 hectares (36,527 sq. mi.)
The vast Limpopo Heartland stretches across savannas, woodlands, rivers, and floodplains in Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Rare sable antelope, rhinos, hippos, and a rich variety of birds, insects, and aquatic life make their home in the Heartland’s expansive wild lands and the popular Kruger National Park.
A park only on paper.
The Limpopo Heartland is perhaps best known for South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park. Yet, nearby in Mozambique, an equally fascinating park is virtually unknown: Banhine National Park. The park's 7,000 square kilometers harbor extensive wetlands that are a key source of water for the arid lands surrounding them. Banhine receives little of the attention—and income—that Kruger enjoys. And, wildlife suffers as a result. Unique species like the wattled crane and antelope have been in steady decline.
The leopard: conservation’s moving target.
South Africa’s Kruger National Park seems like the perfect habitat for leopards, but such elusive cats are very difficult to keep track of. Many scientists assumed that leopards could cope with habitat fragmentation and were thriving. But, that assumption has come into question. Despite being recluses, these nocturnal predators are at risk from illegal hunting, increased hunting quotas, habitat loss, disease, and human-wildlife conflict.
Our solutions to the challenges in the Limpopo Heartland:
Bring Banhine back.
African Wildlife Foundation worked with the Mozambique Ministry of Tourism to restore the infrastructure of Banhine National Park. AWF constructed an international conservation research center to draw scientists to the park, providing both research fees for staffing and managing Banhine and valuable knowledge about the wildlife and wild lands there. With World Bank funding, AWF is also working with local communities to create a wildlife sanctuary adjacent to the park—a fenced haven for animals and a source of tourism income for local people.
Understand that using knowledge of leopards is the key to saving them.
In partnership with Singita Game Reserves and South Africa National Parks, AWF launched the Greater Kruger Leopard Conservation Science Project in Kruger National Park. AWF’s Nakedi Maputla—currently an AWF Charlotte Fellow—led the wildlife research, using camera traps, scat collection and analysis, and Global Positioning System (GPS) collars to track the mysterious cats. The project goes further than monitoring leopards and the threats facing them: It looks into the needs of local people and provides opportunities for African researchers and students to get involved in conservation.
Explore some of our related projects.
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