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Greg Carr subject of National Geographic story on revitalizing African national park

December 21, 2018

A recent National Geographic article sings the praises of an Idaho Falls native who has teamed up with the government of Mozambique to restore a war-ravaged national park.

After 15 years of civil war pounded the southeastern African nation’s Gorongosa National Park, surveys found just 15 African buffalo, six lions, 100 hippos, and a handful of blue wildebeest, according the National Geographic story. The Carr Foundation, founded by Greg Carr, was approached to help restore the area and in 2004 the Gorongosa Restoration Project began.

The latest 2018 aerial wildlife counts, released this month, now show buffalo numbers at more than 1,000, hippos at 550, wildebeest at 600 and lions also thriving. Birds, elephants, impala and other antelope are also thriving.

More than just rebuilding wildlife, the project also focused on people.

“What the Carr Foundation (and its founder, Greg Carr) brought to this challenge was not just financial resources and management acumen but a vision that Gorongosa could become a ‘human rights park,’” according to National Geographic.

The partnership helps out the local people with health care, education and economic development. This help for people also benefits the national park.

“I’ve been here 10 years now, and every time I go across the river I see somebody with a new bicycle, somebody with some new clothes, somebody’s put a new roof on their house, somebody’s planted some new seeds in a garden and got something growing,” Carr told Idaho Public TV about the project. “And I love the fact that they’re able to leverage off of being neighbors of the park and benefit their own lives.”

“You can’t protect wildlife and its habitat for the long term, Carr and his colleagues know, by fencing out desperate people; if you want elephants and impala and kudu to thrive inside a park boundary, you need to ensure that humans who live just outside the boundary thrive too,” the National Geographic says.

The latest report shows one encouraging number in the wildlife counts at Gorongosa is down: Animals found in snares within the park — 0.

While the recovery of the Gorongosa has been dramatic since the war, Carr and his colleagues are looking for more.

One interesting fact about the Gorongosa elephants is that many have evolved without tusks because of poaching pressure. Rare tuskless elephants were not poached for their ivory. About a third of surviving elephants’ daughters have no tusks, according to the National Geographic.

To read more about the Carr Foundation efforts in Gorongosa National Park and to see a short video and slideshow, go to https://on.natgeo.com/2UXFEJy.

To learn more about Gorongosa National Park, go to gorongosa.org.

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