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Quirimbas Nat Park
@ Ibo Island Lodge
The story of the creation of the Quirimbas National Park is quite unique. The National Park was declared in June 2002 with the celebrations and official functions taking place on Ibo Island. What is extraordinary is that the Park was established at the request of the local communities, stake holders and NGO's all interested in working together to protect the region. Mozambique Conservation can only really be effective if it has the support of the communities that inhabit the areas. In the case of the Quirimbas National Park it was unanimous.
The Quirimbas National Parks goal is "to conserve the diversity, abundance, and ecological integrity of all physical and biological resources in the park area, so that they may be enjoyed and used productively by present and future generations".
The Park is extremely selective about what tourism projects and tourism investments it allows into the region with an emphasis on high quality, low impact tourism where the communities also benefit.
The Quirimbas National Park is one of the most important and biodiverse marine regions in the world. It has an abundance of extremely rare species such as the sea turtle, dugongs, humpback whales, dolphins, sharks, as well as lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, wild dog, hyena, and a wide range of antelope and much more.
National Park Location
The Quirimbas National Park is located in six central districts of the Cabo Delgado Province, northern Mozambique. It encompasses an area of approximately 7,506 square kilometres, 5,984 on the mainland continent and 1,522 being made up of ocean, inter-tidal, and island habitats. 12º00'00" and 12º55'04" S, and 39º10'00" E and 40º39'44" E. The marine section of the Park contains the 11 southernmost islands of the Quirimbas Archipelago, of which four islands (Ibo, Matemo, Quisiwe, and Quirimba) have a long history of permanent human occupation. The Park runs approximately 100 kilometers north from the mouth of the Tari River past Ponta do Diabo, to the town of Mucojo in the Macomia District. The 11 islands included in the Quirimbas National Park are the following: Quipaco Island, Quisiwe Island, Mefundvo Island, Quilalea Island, Sencar Island, Quirimba Isla, Ibo, Quirambo, Fion Island, Matemo Island, and Rolas Island. The offshore sea atoll of the St. Lazarus Banks (Banco de São Lázaro), is 42 nautical miles due east of Ibo Island, and is included in the Park area as well. St. Lazarus is located between 12o06'00" S and 12o17'00" S and 41º25'32" E and 41o26'00" E.
The marine section of the Quirimbas National Park displays wide variations in depth. The underwater topography is characterised by a series of deep, east-west running channels which cut through the continental shelf and support a diverse coral growth; the Montepuez Channel south of Quilalea Island, the Ibo Channel north of Ibo, and the Matemo channel just south of Matemo island are examples of these. These channels begin in the depth of the abyss, cutting between the islands before petering out in sand flats or seagrass beds to the west of the main line of islands.
The islands themselves are oriented in a rough north-south line parallel to and at a distance of approximately 10km from the mainland. Between the islands and the mainland lie shallow sandbanks, seagrass beds, and stands of mangroves. Depth here ranges up to 20m below mean tide levels, with the notable exception of the Montepuez channel, which reaches 40 plus metres. Extensive sand and mudflats (up to several kilometres in breadth) fringe the continental shoreline from Ponta do Diabo north to Mucojo.
The islands are bordered on the west by tidal flats composed of coral rock and dead coral. These flats are also extensive, up to 1km in breadth. The fringing reef begins at the end of the coral flats. Depth here falls away rather directly, in some cases vertically, to the abyss. Depths of 200 metres occur extremely close to the coral fringing reef; the continental shelf is quite narrow here. Scuba diving in the Quirimbas is spectacular as the reef is generally well preserved; wind and waves and currently and the vertical topography all combine to discourage local fishermen from diving and netting along the seaward reefs.
Between the islands and the St. Lazarus Banks, 42 nautical miles to the west, the depth of the Mozambique Channel may reach 2,200 metres. The Banks emerges from these depths to create a coral bank of less than 20 metres in depth (at low tide) with parts coming to within 4 metres of the surface.
Terrestrial region of the National Park
The Park region has been identified by various studies as priority areas for Mozambique wildlife. Three important migratory routes for elephants in Mozambique transverse the area, following the coast and the Montepuez and Messalo river systems. The inselbergs (isolated granitic mountains) of Meluco area not only spectacularly beautiful, but have been identified as a centre of plant and animal endemism, and have served historically as a refuge for elephants. The local elephants have to a certain extent adapted themselves to the mountain environment, and one finds their tracks in the steepest and rockiest and most unlikely places.
The following animal and bird species are present in the National Park:
Elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, hyena, wild dog, eland, greater kudu, bushbuck, sable, water buck, duikers, suni and oribi, jackal, serval, civet, otter, bushpig, warthog, baboon, samango and vervet monkey, hippopotamus, crocodile and a huge variety of sea birds and raptors including the fisheagle, bataleur eagle, martial eagle, flamingo, storks, herons, kingfishers, and many more.