Mozambique opens game park to counter coal mines

In the Tete province, where 60% of the land has been allocated to coal mining, Mozambique has set aside 350,000 hectares for something quite different: A game park.

Last week the country declared an area close to the Cahora Bassa dam as a nation game park "to boost wildlife and tourism," Africa's Mail & Guardian reports.

The park's inhabitants will include hippos, elephants, lions and other animals.

"This is one of the most active countries in the developing world in making new concession areas," Mozambique-based environmental consultant Sean Nazerali told Mail & Guardian. "It will take more than 20 years for game densities to catch up," he added.

The Tete province, abundant in coal reserves – the fifth-largest in the world according to some estimates – has captured the attention of foreign companies looking for coal. Rio Tinto has several properties in the area.

But the government's attempts to balance conservation areas and mining concessions has caused a "difficult dilemma," Mail & Guardian writes.

The country is under pressure to keep up with its neighbours in allocating land for game parks but with crippling poverty, the country also needs mining revenue.