Stephanie Hanes, for the Pulitzer Center
So we've gotten some comments about the whole landmine issue.
During the Mozambican civil war, there were landmines all over the place. And sometimes, at least according to what people on the ground have told us, nobody kept track of where the mines were buried. (And in a really cruel turn of events, big flooding in 2000 and 2001 moved a bunch of the landmines, making mine maps of the area all but worthless.)
After the war, international aid groups and the government spent a lot of money clearing these mines. But there are still areas of the country that haven't been officially cleared.
The Gorongosa management doubts there are actually any landmines still in the park
We spoke to one person who said that early government clearing initiatives in the mid 1990s found eight mines, all along the main roads. (Those main roads have been totally cleared and are now safe.) In the more remote areas, soldiers would have been reluctant to plant mines because both sides were coming and going all the time – they'd be as likely to blow up their own comrades as to get the enemy.
That said, the park staff isn't taking any chances. So they've hired a company to basically go inch by inch over any area of the park that people might be walking in. So far, that company hasn't found any landmines. It's found a bunch of weapons and unexploded ordnance – basically the type of stuff you'd expect to find if you were digging around an old battlefield.
It's obviously a touchy issue, but from our perspective at least, the park is going above and beyond in its efforts to make sure everything is safe. At this point, all the tourist areas are totally clear. Anyone walking through the bush would have a bigger problem with lions than with landmines.
But it's still an interesting issue to us – it shows just how damaging and expensive war can be. The weapons the de-miners are finding also remind us that this really was a battlefield.