January 27, 2006

US mogul pledges $40 mln to Mozambique park

By Mateus Chale

MAPUTO (Reuters) - U.S. Internet mogul Greg Carr has
committed up to $40 million of his own cash to help rebuild a
game park in Mozambique which he hopes to restock with animals
from elsewhere in Africa.

Carr, former chairman of Prodigy Internet and Boston
Technology, told Reuters on Friday he wanted Gorongosa National
Park in central Mozambique to recapture its place as a leading
eco-tourism destination in southern Africa.

The park, which lies at the southern end of Africa's Rift
Valley, was largely destroyed during Mozambique's 16-year civil
war that ended in 1992.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Carr Foundation has
managed the 3,770 sq km (1,455 sq mile) park for a year under
an agreement with the government, which it is seeking to extend
to at least 30 years, wildlife conservationists say.

"I have committed personal funds in excess of $30-to-$40
million (to develop the park)," Carr told Reuters in an

He said he was looking for other foreign partners to fund
the park, which is also supported by the U.S. Agency for
International Development.

"Gorongosa has the potential of being one of Africa's most
important tourism destinations," said Carr, whose foundation
dedicated to human rights, the environment and the arts was
created in 1999.

"This year we will begin a re-introduction program to bring
some animals to the park, so once again the ecosystem can be
complete," he said.

Rehabilitating the park -- including construction of a
6,000 hectare (23 square mile) sanctuary where animals are
expected to breed -- will be concluded by the end of rainy
season in March.

The Carr Foundation is in talks with animal relocation
companies in Africa to source some species in Mozambique and
neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, he

"The good news is that there are a lot of animals now. We
have almost 300 elephants, we do have a lot of antelope and
fabulous bird life," Carr said.

"For tourists there is a lot to see now but there are still
some other species that are in very low numbers such as buffalo
and zebra," he added.

Sadly though, animals such as roan antelope, cheetah and
black rhino which once inhabited Gorongosa were no longer to be
found, Mozambican wildlife officials said.

Mozambique has undertaken a program to improve
infrastructure in its parks as well as increase animal numbers
in some areas substantially diminished by poaching and the
civil war -- in an operation that has usually included moving
transferring animals from other existing facilities.

Since 2002, Mozambique has transferred some 5,000 different
animals to the Limpopo National Park, one of its newer animal

At least another 2,500 animals have been transferred from
the adjacent Kruger National Park in South Africa to Limpopo --

part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park that straddles
Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In the last four years, Mozambique, which has dedicated
some 15 percent of its total area to conservation regions, has
created two national parks and two reserves.