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Story Publication logo April 20, 2007

Some responses to St. Louis questions...


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Before the Mozambican civil war, Gorongosa National Park was among the top destinations in Africa...

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Multiple Authors

Stephanie Hanes, for the Pulitzer Center
Gorongosa, Mozambique

Hi all. Thanks for your great questions.
I'm going to try to write back one at time, and will post as I go…

Hey, I'm a student from Parkway West High and I had to do this at home so I hope this is the right page... I got a few questions for ya. How much money will it cost to get all the new animals and transport them into the park? What if you are unable to restore the park to its original condition in 30 years? What if fighting suddenly started errupting again? Would you stop your work or keep up your work even though there is a war going on?
Thank you
Buddy Kientz

Thanks for writing in. I'll give you my take – I also emailed with some of the people at the park, so can let you know what they say, too.

As for the animals: It's going to cost millions of dollars. I don't know exactly how much – I asked Vasco, the head of communications at Gorongosa, and he also just said "millions."

Why millions? There are tons of logistics, and the animals are pricey! If you're interested in buying a hippo, for instance, check out this link: This is the website for one of the animal auctions in South Africa. (KZN, or KwaZulu Natal, is one of the provinces here.) I haven't heard anything about the Carr Foundation folks buying from this particular auction, but it gives you a sense of what's out there. (I found it incredibly weird when I got here, the idea that you could actually get yourself a giraffe.) To give an idea of the cost - during one recent auction, the hippos went for close to $6000; rhinos will put you back more than $16,000.

So think about restocking an entire national park, and all the transport costs and infrastructure and personnel and so on and so forth, and you're talking about a lot of cash.

Now for the what ifs…. Vasco says: "We do hope that 30 years is a reasonable timeframe…."

My opinion: I don't think they see any benefit in thinking about "what if this doesn't work." I think they're just trying to make it work. It's a massive task, but 30 years is also a pretty long time. We'll have to just check back in after a couple decades.

If fighting broke out? That's unlikely at this point. Mozambique is pretty stable – I don't think anyone is worried about another civil war. The real security issues are the ones that are arguably trickier than outright fighting – poverty, food shortages, environmental degradation. Why do I call these "security issues?" Lots of reasons. But I'll try to pick up on that in a later post...

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