Mozambique’s war-hit Gorongosa park slowly recovers
Despite 95 percent of its wildlife being killed during Mozambique's 16-year civil war, the Gorongosa National Park is back on its feet and Aranje, 62, who started working here in the 1970s wants it to stay that way.
"There used to be many animals. Many elephants, hippos, zebras and other species," he says.
But the once popular holiday destination for Europeans during Portuguese colonial rule was closed when civil war broke out after independence. And by the time it had re-opened when the fighting ended in 1992, wide-scale poaching had severely depleted its numbers.
"I was shocked, because as we walked around surveying the park we found nothing," says Aranje. "The only living animals we found were monkeys. And even then they kept 100 metres or 200 metres away."
Ten years later American philanthropist Greg Carr, who made a fortune from selling voicemail systems to telephone companies, backed a major repopulation programme at the park.
Since then 200 wildebeest, 180 buffalo, six elephants and six rhinoceros have been introduced with the help of the nearby Marromeu nature reserve and South Africa's Kruger Park.
In 2008 the government and Carr struck a 20-year co-management deal at Gorongosa. By the time it expires he will have invested 40 million US dollars since his initial involvement began.
The park's steady resurgence is even allowing it to share some of its gene stock with other reserves in Mozambique.