Pediva, The Republic of Angola – On Saturday 18 th of May 2024, H.E. President João Lourenço of Angola and a high-level ministerial delegation comprising the Governor of the Namibe Province, over 16 ministers, traditional authorities and other dignitaries, visited Iona National Park to inaugurate the park’s newly-constructed Pediva headquarters and to witness the release of the second group of Angolan giraffe that were reintroduced into Iona. H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chair of the African Union, also attended the event as Vice Chair of the African Parks Board.

In a continued effort to restore species diversity in Iona National Park, conservation NGO African Parks, which manages the park in partnership with the Government of Angola, reintroduced 13 Angolan giraffe to the park in collaboration with Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). Following their capture on a game farm in central Namibia, the giraffe undertook a 1,300-kilometer journey in specially designed trucks to their new home in Angola. This is the second giraffe translocation that has been carried out in Iona in partnership with the GCF since mid-2023.

The construction of the Pediva headquarters, which constitutes a capital investment of US$2.5 million into Iona National Park, is the first permanent operational base of scale to be constructed in the park. This headquarter will enable the entire park management team to be based in the park full time, and will form the central hub for all management activities.

These achievements mark a critical step in the revitalisation of the park and are significant in boosting tourism and development in the region. “The inauguration of Iona National Park, includes nature conservation but also tourism,” said President João Lourenço, “We have to get into the habit of practising tourism in our own land, so all Angolans are invited to come to Iona National Park.”

Through holistic management, which invests in biodiversity conservation, community development and opportunities for park revenue generation, Iona has the potential to be a significant driver of sustainable socio-economic development. Iona National Park is home to over 6,500 people. The core principle behind the management partnership is to ensure communities utilise the park's natural resources sustainably and within the ecological limits of the fragile ecosystem, for the benefit of future generations of Angolans.

“The inauguration of the headquarters for Iona National Park demonstrates H.E. President João Lourenço's commitment to environmental preservation and sustainable development, as well as guaranteeing the strengthening of management activities within the protected area,” said Augusto Archer de Sousa Mangueira, the Governor of the Namibe Province.

Iona National Park manager, Pedro Monterroso, provided an overview of the park, the management partnership and the key results achieved over the past four years during the opening ceremony of Pediva.

Since 2019, over US$3.3 million has been invested in local procurement, with 83% directed to Namibe Province. This commitment extends to local employment, with 97% of the 162-person park management team being Angolan, with over 60% from Namibe and nearly 40% from communities residing within the park itself. Additionally, US$4.5 million has been allocated to local salaries and national taxes. Almost 60 tons of food and basic supplies have been provided to local communities, and over 340 students have benefited from educational support and scholarships. Improved monitoring and research have confirmed the presence of over 500 species and have significantly enhanced the understanding of this vital ecosystem.

"This is a major stepping stone for the restoration of Iona National Park,” said Pedro Monterroso, “We extend our deepest gratitude to the Ministry of Environment, through the National Institute for Biodiversity and Conservation, for their partnership and support, and together we look forward to unlocking the full value of this globally significant protected area. We also express our appreciation to Giraffe Conservation Foundation for their critical collaboration in this recent giraffe relocation.”

Discussions were also held on the vision that the Government of Angola and African Parks share for boosting tourism in Iona. The park boasts a unique landscape, a mere three-hour drive from Moçâmedes, the provincial capital. Its proximity to Namibia's Skeleton Coast National Park further enhances its appeal. Iona's stunning scenery, rich tapestry of flora and fauna, and captivating cultural heritage position it as a significant natural resource for the nation. Improvements to park infrastructure, as well as the potential future reintroduction of key species all contribute towards ensuring a more viable tourist product. Crucially, a diverse range of accommodation options will be developed to cater to domestic, regional, and international markets, ensuring accessibility for all.

The United States Ambassador to Angola and the Executive Vice President of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) were also present for the opening. The United States Government and ICCF have been instrumental partners for Iona National Park.

“Having followed the partnership closely between the Government of Angola and African Parks, I am pleased that this occasion could be celebrated in the park, and I commend H.E. President João Lourenço on his leadership and dedication to the conservation and sustainable management of Angola’s natural resources,” said Senator Coons, who recently visited Angola on a Congressional
Delegation visit.

During his visit, President João Lourenço highlighted his interest in exploring collaborative models for the management of other protected areas in Angola. African Parks takes immense pride in collaborating with the Government of Angola on revitalising Iona National Park and remains committed to supporting the Government further in its conservation efforts.

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About Iona National Park: Iona National Park covers 1,515,000 hectares of Angola's Namibe Province in the south-western part of the country. It was proclaimed as a reserve in 1937 and upgraded to a national park in 1964. Iona is contiguous with Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia, forming part of one of the larger transboundary conservation areas in southern Africa. Due to its unique and fragile environment, which includes many endemic plant and animal species, we are ensuring that the natural resources relied upon by both local communities and wildlife remain sustainable in the long-term. For more information visit

About Ministry of Environment (MINAMB), Angola: The Ministry of the Environment, abbreviated as MINAMB, is the Ministerial Department whose mission is to propose the formulation, conduct, execute and control the Executive's policy regarding the environment in a perspective of protection, preservation and conservation of environmental quality, pollution control, areas of conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage, as well as the preservation and rational use of natural resources.

About Giraffe Conservation Foundation: The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only organisation in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. GCF currently implements and/or supports giraffe conservation efforts in 20 African countries, impacting over 100 million acres of giraffe habitat. As an international science based conservation organisation, GCF provides innovative approaches to saving all four species of giraffe and continues to make significant contributions to advancing giraffe conservation in the wild.

About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on responsibility for the long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 22 protected areas in 12 countries covering over 20 million hectares in Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information visit, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

African Parks
Helen Hancock: +27 71 149 8830
[email protected]