The park is 7,000 square kilometres (2,700 sq mi) in area and holds extensive inland wetlands, acting as an important source of water to the dry lands that surround it. The park is in an area that has annual rainfall of only 430 millimetres (17 in). However, over 1% of the park is wetland and there are also more than a thousand pans that range in size from a few square meters to hundreds of hectares. These pans may be very salty or “sweet” and drinkable. The water comes from the area to the northwest near the Zimbabwe boundary, flowing through many channels into the wetlands and then into the Changane River.
18 species of fish have been found in the park. The African lungfish, two killifish species and two Barbel species have developed ways to deal with predictable periods of drought. At times, the wetlands are completely dry on the surface.The Banhine National Park used to be home to buffalo, sable, tsetsebe, hartebeest, zebra, and wildebeest. Many of these animals were destroyed during the civil wars of the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the park is still home to endangered wattled cranes and to many migratory birds. Results of an aerial survey in October 2004 showed that the park had healthy populations of ostrich, kudu, impala, reedbuck, duiker, steenbok, porcupine, warthog and oribi.
There is a small human population in the reserve, damaging the environment by slash-and-burn cultivation of maize, sorghum, cassava and sugar cane. With drought, the crops fail and the people revert to hunting and fishing, placing stress on the fauna. The government is encouraging people to move out of the park by building permanent water sources outside of the reserve and giving incentives to those who move.
The Banhine, Zinave and Limpopo national parks in Mozambique, the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and the Kruger National Park in South Africa are the basis for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area that will link the Drakensberg Mountains in the west to the Save River Estuary in the east. The total protected area will exceed 95,624 square kilometres (36,921 sq mi).
The Banhine National Park is being co-funded and administered by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), which has established an international research camp in Banhine . The park has been neglected, with little in the way of infrastructure or management. The AWF has built a conservation research center, which it is marketing to the international scientific community. Fees paid by researchers will be used to staff the center and manage the park.
By road from Inhambane village or Gaza Province (roads in precarious conditions).
Best viewing season:
In the weak months during the winter season, between April and October.
There is no tourist development in the BNP. Accommodation under the form of camping can be arranged through the BNP administration in the main campsite.
The BNP can be visited daily from 7h30 to 16h30.
Banhine National Park: sources http://www.africaguide.com/country/mozamb/parks.htm#banhine and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banhine_National_Park