The diverse habitats around the Bazaruto Archipelago are under threat due to illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, unregulated natural resource use, and uncontrolled tourism activities. These not only threaten the biodiversity but have resulted in a considerable loss in park revenue, leading to the further impoverishment of local communities.
Bazaruto has 53 rangers, 16 of whom are women, and during 2020 they carried out 8,115 patrols (an increase of 58% over the previous year). As a result, 27 arrests were made for illegal fishing and turtle-poaching and 28 fishing boats were confiscated. Twenty-nine commercial fishing vessels were intercepted and monitored in an effort to address large-scale fishing that remains a threat to the sustainability of Bazaruto. These brave men and women dedicate their lives to safeguarding the archipelago, and their efforts have resulted in a major decrease in illegal fishing activity.
There were a number of fires on the islands of Benguerra and Bazaruto during 2020, caused by illegal brewing activities, as a result of which one person was arrested, and the trial continues. Regular joint patrols with maritime authorities were deployed over the year outside the northern boundary of the park, leading to several arrests and more than 50 turtles released from fishing nets. African Parks continues to invest in strengthening law enforcement to mitigate conservation threats.
Mozambique’s first female seafaring rangers have completed two full years of service in Bazaruto Archipelago National Park and they are making us proud! After a tough selection process in 2018, 17 women joined a total of 34 new recruits in a gruelling eight-week basic field ranger training course. After receiving physical, theoretical and practical training, and elementary first aid training, all 17 women successfully graduated – 16 of whom are still a part of the ranger force today. For the first time in Bazaruto’s history, a third of its ranger unit consisted of women. This was a critical step towards building a skilled ranger unit of Mozambican nationals who are tasked with protecting their own natural heritage while building strong relationships with the people who live in and around the park.
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