Words and images by Stephen Smith
The dream of a Peace Park properly linking KZN and the southern reserves of Mozambique is still being frustrated by poaching and politics. But a new 4×4 route could be on the cards…
I’d last heard of the Futi Corridor during the great fanfare of the launch in 2011, and when it was suggested that I take a trip to southern Mozambique to find out what was happening there, I was interested − but also a little apprehensive. The Futi is actually quite a mysterious place, considering that it lies on our border and is run by the Peace Parks Foundation.
I wasn’t even sure of the exact boundaries of the Futi Corridor, or whether the corridor’s intended goal was conservation, job creation or tourism, or possibly a combination of these. And what had been happening since 2011? After doing some internet research, I wasn’t much the wiser. Yes, I could find the basics, such as that the corridor is a Peace Parks Foundation project, and that it links the Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique with the Tembe Elephant Park in the very northern stretches of KwaZulu-Natal which border Mozambique. But the maps of the area aren’t enlightening, and there don’t seem to be any roads in the actual corridor.
It is even more confusing when you learn that the Futi Corridor is part of the much larger Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation and Resource Area, which includes five Ramsar sites: the Ndumo Game Reserve, the Kosi Bay System, Lake Sibaya, the Turtle Beaches and Coral Reefs of Tongaland, and Lake St Lucia.
There’s also the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, stretching from Ponta do Ouro in the south, to the Maputo River mouth in Maputo Bay in the north, and including Inhaca and Portuguese islands. All of these areas are closely linked, yet so little information is readily available. Almost all I could discover was that the Maputo Special Reserve is 1040km2, and the Tembe Elephant Park is 300 km2, and that the corridor itself covers almost 690km2, which makes it a vast area of incredibly diverse wilderness.