Gorongosa Park is a 1,000,000 acre nature preserve surrounding Mount Gorongosa in Mozambique. Thirty years ago, it was teeming with life. Tens of thousands of animals called it home: lions, elephants, crocodiles, impalas, and many others. But that was before a twenty year civil war tore Mozambique apart. Some of the animals were slaughtered by one side or another for food. Others died from the collapse of the food chain. Where there once had been thousands, only hundreds remained. In 2004, after the civil war was over, a twenty-year project was begun to restore it to its original beauty.
Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise chronicles the efforts of a team of wildlife researchers and conservation specialists to bring the park back to life. It is developed and hosted by Bob Poole, an American wildlife photographer who grew up in Africa, developing a deep appreciation for its natural habitats. Poole brings and upbeat demeanor to the episodes that is infectious, and speaks with a little bit of a surfer-dude lilt in his voice that some will find endearing.
The first episode of the series deals with the efforts to restore the Lion population, which fell from a population of over 200 to just 10 in 2004. We meet a growing pride, and learn about the efforts of veterinarians and conservationists to solve a perplexing mystery: why has the population not rebounded the way it should have? The second episode takes us into the lives of Gorongosa’s elephants, which have become aggressive in their dealings with the humans who are attempting to take care of them.
Along the way, we learn of the challenges faced by those who seek to restore the park, and its almost militarized company of park rangers. There are poachers and illegal fisherman to deal with, as well as the threat of a renewed civil war, which would devastate the park once again.
It’s beautifully shot and poetically written, showcasing a wondrous world on the brink of recovery. Anyone who is interested in Africa, or anyone who cares about wildlife populations will be fascinated.
Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise debuts Tuesday Sept. 22 at 8:00 on KIXE Channel 9.