In a watershed experiment, the Boston entrepreneur is putting $40 million of his own money into a splendid but ravaged park in Mozambique.
GODE, Ethiopia — The town of Gode sits on an arid plain of brittle yellow scrub brush in Ethiopia's eastern Somali region. It looks like a place a John Wayne character might live and die.
And to be sure, people are dying here as violence from warring factions in the neighboring nation of Somalia spills over into Ethiopia.
"The worst are bullet injuries to the abdomen," said Solomon Muluneh, a 31-year-old Ethiopian general practitioner, one of only two doctors within 100 miles. "When you open the abdomen, you pray because it is a very difficult area."
In the center of Mozambique, a country of blinding white beaches and sweeping savannas, velvety green wetlands and spirit-filled forests, an American philanthropist is working to restore a long-forgotten national park; the first step, he hopes, in lifting this beleaguered region out of poverty.
Gorongosa National Park was once among the top destinations in Africa, with a greater animal concentration than on the Serengeti Plain. But during Mozambique's long civil war, soldiers and other poachers killed the animals, planted landmines and destroyed the infrastructure. For years, this beautiful landscape was all but abandoned.
A main challenge of the Gorongosa project is convincing the people living around the park that cooperating will serve their interests. Poaching, deforestation and slash-and-burn agriculture still threaten the restoration efforts.
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Video produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Reporter: Stephanie Hanes
Videographer: Jeffrey Barbee
Editing: Alexandra Verville and Nathalie Applewhite
Map and war footage courtesy of the Congressional Research Services.
Produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Azimuth Media
An estimated 150,000 people live in and around Gorongosa National Park.
The U.S.-based Carr Foundation is working with the Mozambican government to restore the park. The number of tourists visiting the park is increasing.
Stephen Sapienza, for the Pulitzer Center
What were some of the technical and logistical limitations concerned with filming in Gorongosa?
Gorongosa is still considered one of the top birding locations in southeast Africa.
Stephanie Hanes, for the Pulitzer Center
Hi all. I think I mentioned that I asked people at Gorongosa Park what they thought about the whole "how to help" question. Here's what Greg Carr wrote in response...
How can a small group of people change the world:
First, an individual needs to have a big dream. Then, she or he needs to encourage others to share the vision and improve it with their own ideas.