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 most popular destinations on the continent – a place where movie stars and astronauts vacationed, where animal herds were denser than on the famed Serengeti Plain. But Mozambique's long civil war turned this natural wonderland into a battlefield. Rebels hid in the park and poached the animals for food. By the time the war ended in 1992, Gorongosa was a wasted, abandoned place – yet another African casualty in a century filled with tragedies.
A few years ago, a philanthropist named Greg Carr became enchanted by the story of this lost park.
Carr had made millions of dollars when his company, Boston Technology, invented America's first widely used voice mail system. But at age 39 he quit business to fund human rights projects, including the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. By the early 2000s, he was looking for a way to help solve the humanitarian crises of southern Africa.
After much research, he started to believe that Gorongosa was the answer.
See the May 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine to read Stephanie's in-depth profile of Greg Carr and the Gorongosa project.