• SGDRN Established: 2000
  • Area: 42,000 square kilometres
  • Approximately 20,000 Elephants, 14,000 Sable, 800 Lion, 350 wild Dog
  • Number of Recorded Bird Species: 400+
  • Lugenda River (~400km)
  • Number of people residing in Reserve:  approx 40,000
  • Two District Administration: Mecula and Mavago
  • Length of Core Road Network: approx 1,200km
  • Number of Hunting Safaris since 2000: 562
  • Average Number of Hunting Tourists per year: 100
  • Estimated Total Gross Infrastructure Investment by Concessions from 2000 to 2012 : US$7.4 million

FLORA
Most of the Reserve area is covered by extensive deciduous woodland which is not particularly diverse in terms of species. These woodlands are relatively undisturbed compared to similar woodlands elsewhere in Mozambique.
Essentially there are five main groups of vegetation types, the distribution and extent of which is determined principally by available soil moisture:

  1. 1. Forest vegetation where additional moisture is received, particularly during the dry season.
  2. 2. Riverine vegetation on alluvium with additional moisture from perennial rivers.
  3. 3. Deciduous Woodland, which covers most of the Reserve and only receives moisture from incident rainfall.
  4. 4. Dambo vegetation where trees are precluded owing to poorly drained conditions during the growing season.
  5. 5. Granite mountains or Inselbergs with soils with very poor moisture storage capacity and almost desert-like conditions (e.g. extremes of temperature).

FAUNA
Northern Mozambique, notably Niassa and Cabo Delgado, still remains relatively unexplored in respect of its faunal components. The area represents an inter-gradation between a number of mammal subspecies about which there is still very little known. Thus, the continuous aerial surveys, and the biodiversity research that has been carried out in the Reserve constitutes very important data for biodiversity conservation in Mozambique.
The Niassa National Reserve contains the largest concentration of large mammals in Mozambique, including an estimated population of 450 African Wild Dogs, 12 000 elephants, 9 700 sables and 800 Lions. The area contains a number of endemic sub-species of large wildlife, the most notable of these being Niassa Wildebeest, Johnston’s impala and Bohm’s Zebra, as well as a large diversity of small carnivores and mongoose.
Nine different “bird” habitats have so far been identified within the Reserve, with over 400 species of birds recorded, some of which including “globally threatened” species, such as the Taita Falcon, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, African Skimmer and Stierling’s Woodpecker.
Important discoveries on amphibians include the following four first records for Mozambique: Kirk’s caecilian, Spotted reed frog, Short-legged spiny reed frog, and the Upemba ridged frog.
The Niassa National Reserve is home to a new species of reptile – the Mecula Girdled Lizard, and in addition, to new records such as Loveridge’s Legless Skink, Angulate Dwarf Day Gecko, Chobe Dwarf Day Gecko and the Ornate Scrub Lizard.
The history of the Niassa area has been compiled by Liesegang (2003) and this indicates settlement and use of the area going back several centuries to the Maravi Empire

.
Records indicate that the ancestors of many of the people currently living in the area became resident only in around 1910 to 1925. Some populations groups have a longer association going back to around 1850.
Around 1870, there were a number of villages on islands along the Rovuma River. These islands were heavily populated partly by people who had fled from the Lugenda valley which had been attacked in several waves by the “Lolo”, whose main chief seems to have been the Laponi-chief Muwa (Maúa) between ca. 1840 and 1875. Much of Mecula must also have been abandoned around 1870, only Mataka in Muembe and further north had apparently been able to counter “Lolo” attacks successfully by 1860. Also some the inhabitants of Mecula were obliged to abandon their area of origin. The population in the Rovuma valley increased in about 1880, the migrants may have included rival chiefs moving away from Mataka.
By 1885-86, there was a reversal of the movement. For security reasons many chiefs transferred their settlements away from the valley of the Rovuma River which was exposed to Nguni attacks and may also have experienced some exhaustion of agricultural reserves. Big villages headed by Chipojola, Cee Mtalika (Metarica), Kandulu and Acemponda had all been transferred from the Rovuma valley to similar positions on islands in the Lugenda valley.
The more recent colonial history especially that surrounding the German occupation of eastern Africa during the early 20th century has some importance for the Reserve. German fortifications and graves are located on Mecula Mountain and the soldier-hunter Pretorius, famous for locating the German cruiser Königsberg in the Rufiji delta on behalf of the British Navy in 1914, hunted elephant extensively in the Rovuma-Lugenda valleys. In the early part of the 20th century the area was relatively well populated with people living in much of what is now the Niassa National Reserve.

These and other sites of palaeontological, archaeological, historical and/or ceremonial importance are gradually under the process of identification and assessment of cultural value. These sites are potential important to the overall conservation objectives of the Niassa Reserve. Several old smelting sites have been identified in the vicinity of the Lugenda River.
The first measures towards the protection of the area which today is the Niassa National Reserve was in March, 1954, when an official notice, from the Hunting Commission prohibited hunting for commercial purposes in an area of nearly 100 000 km2 in northern Mozambique.
In October 1954, with the aim of promoting the protection of wildlife species that only existed in this northern part of the country, the Niassa Hunting Reserve was created. Six years later, in July 1960, the limits of the Reserve were change and declared as a Partial Hunting Reserve. In 1969 the boundaries were again redefined, reducing the area of the Reserve to 12 380 km2. Although these remained the legally defined limits of the Reserve until 1999, there were subsequent attempts to enlarge the Reserve, notably during the late 1970s and early 1980s following proposals by Tello and Dutton (1979).
In November 1995, an agreement was signed between Grupo Madal (an agro-industrial company operating in Mozambique since 1903) and the Ministry of Agriculture to jointly develop a rehabilitation strategy and long term Management Plan for the Reserve.
In April 1998, the Council of Ministers approved a proposal (Internal Enactment No. 05/98 and Authorization No. 78/98), which defined the new borders of Niassa National Reserve; the establishment of Sociedade para a Gestão da Reserva do Niassa (SGDRN) as the management entity (see Who’s Who); and lease that provided a secession of rights to SGDRN for a period of ten years.
In November 1999, the new boundaries for the Niassa National Reserve were defined and legalised which included its extension to the Lugenda River, as well as its buffer zone. In 2000 the Articles of Association of SGDRN were published, and in 2002 a 10 year lease agreement was signed between SGDRN and the Ministry of Tourism on behalf of GoM. This agreement came to an end on the 10th of September 2012 and the management of the Reserve was given back to the State.
Niassa National Reserve had previously belonged to a category of conservation area defined as a “partial hunting reserve”. This classification legitimised hunting for certain requirements. Decree 81/99 now declares that the area of the Niassa National Reserve is regulated by the Forestry and Wildlife Law (Law 10/99) and the regulations contained therein, by the Management Plan and the regulation that approves the Plan.
The Sociedade para a Gestão e Desenvolvimento da Reserva do Niassa Moçambique (SARL) is a partnership between the Government of Mozambique and a private company, Investimentos Niassa Ltd, established in 2000, which has exclusive rights for the management and development of the Niassa National Reserve. The following are key aspects of this lease agreement with the Ministry of Tourism which was formally instituted in 2002:

  1. The State is a key founder and promoter of the concept and, considering its significant stake in the future of the area, and its agreement to the 10 years lease, has 51% of the shareholding. Investimentos Niassa, Ltd (49%), has earned its role in the project through the expertise and management capacity introduced into the area, its funding of the proposal, initial surveys, design of the first Management Plan, and provision of seed funding for early development of the project.
  2. The management company (SGDRN) is governed by the Council of Minister’s Authorisation, its foundation statutes signed by the State and Investimentos Niassa, in July 2000, and the lease agreement signed with the Ministry of Tourism in 2002, so as to ensure a continuous long term management process even if changes occur at the level of the current management entity.

The management of the Niassa National Reserve is presently placed directly under SGDRN through a Board of Directors presently appointed by the founding partners. The Reserve Warden (or Administrator), who is responsible for the day to day activities of the Niassa National Reserve Management Unit (NRMU), reports directly to the Director General, who in turn answers to the Board. In addition, a Technical Advisory Committee has been established to advise the Board, the Director General and the Warden, especially on conservation and natural resource issues.
MINISTRY OF TOURISM
The Ministry of Tourism was established in 2000, and was given the responsibility to promote the wildlife conservation and its use as one of the required tourism development components. In this regard, the National Parks, National Reserves and Coutadas (Hunting Areas) are under the jurisdiction of this Ministry, for which it has to:

  • Define, in coordination with other State entities, the terms and conditions for the management of Conservation Areas with partnership with public and private sector;
  • License, control and supervise the exploration of the Conservation Areas under its management.

STRATEGIC INSTITUTIONAL PARTNERSHIPS OF SGDRN
FAUNA & FLORA INTERNATIONAL (FFI)
Fauna & Flora International is the world’s oldest international conservation organization in the world, and was invited by SGDRN in 2000 to be a strategic partner in the efforts to ensure long-term conservation and management of Niassa National Reserve. Initially, FFI assisted with the development of Programs, strenghten the capacity of SGDRN, as well as with undertaking fundraising campaigns. FFI has to date: (i) provided technical assistance to SGDRN in conservation management and community development; (ii) coordinated a comprehensive biodiversity survey and monitoring program; (iii) assisted SGDRN in the design and execution of a fundraising strategy; and (iv) provided financial resources as necessary and appropriate.

HOW  TO  GET THERE :
The poor road network and lack of associated infrastructure present special challenges for those tourists wanting to visit the Niassa National Reserve in Northern Mozambique. A high clearance vehicle with “dif lock” is the minimum requirement and all visitors must be self contained in terms of camping equipment, fuel, food, medical supplies and communication.

From Maputo
By road take EN1 north towards Xai Xai, Maxixe, across the Save River up to Inchope, and on to the EN6 (Chimoio – Beira road ). Continue on the EN1 north towards Caia and cross the Zambezi River over the new bridge. Continue on the EN7 to the small towns of Nicoadala, Namacurra and Mocuba. Take the road 231 towards Guruè and onwards to Cuamba.  Here the choice is to travel directly to the Reserve, using the Road that goes to Marrupa, or to travel first to Lichinga on EN8, and once in Lichinga take the Road going East towards Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.

From South Africa (via Ressano Garcia)
By road from South Africa via Komatieport/Ressano Garcia, following the EN4 to Maputo and then north on the EN1 via Xai Xai, Maxixe, across the Save River up to Inchope, and on to the EN6 (Chimoio – Beira road ). Continue on the EN1 north towards Caia and cross the Zambezi River over the new bridge. Continue on the EN7 to the small towns of Nicoadala, Namacurra and Mocuba. Take the road 231 towards Guruè and onwards to Cuamba.  Here the choice is to travel directly to the Reserve, using the Road that goes to Marrupa, or to travel first to Lichinga on EN8, and once in Lichinga take the Road going East towards Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.

From South Africa (via Pafuri)
From Pafuri follow the road towards Mapai, across the Limpopo River. Take the road northeast that goes to Machaila and Mabote, following Eastwards straight to Mapinhane. This is the road that crosses the Great Limpopo TFCA (passing close to Limpopo, Banhine and Zinave National Parks). Take the left, northwards, along the EN1, crossing the Saver River up to Inchope. Continue on the EN1 north towards Caia and cross the Zambezi River over the new bridge. Continue on the EN7 to the small towns of Nicoadala, Namacurra and Mocuba. Take the road 231 towards Guruè and onwards to Cuamba.  Here the choice is to travel directly to the Reserve, using the Road that goes to Marrupa, or to travel first to Lichinga on EN8, and once in Lichinga take the Road going East towards Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.

From Zimbabwe (via Chimoio)
From Zimbabwé, via Mutare and Chimoio on the EN6, take EN1 going north towards Caia and cross the Zambezi River over the new bridge. Continue on the EN7 to the small towns of Nicoadala, Namacurra and Mocuba. Take the road 231 towards Guruè and onwards to Cuamba.  Here the choice is to travel directly to the Reserve, using the Road that goes to Marrupa, or to travel first to Lichinga on EN8, and once in Lichinga take the Road going East towards Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.

From Zimbabwe (via Tete)
From Zimbabwe, via Cuchamano, travel towards Tete, following the EN103 to the Malawi border and on to Blantyre, crossing back into Mozambique at Mandimba. The options are then to travel east towards Cuamba and on to Marrupa, or north to the capital of Niassa Province – Lichinga, and then Eastwards to Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.

From Lichinga
Take the Road going East towards Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.
From Tanzania (via Mueda)
By road from Tanzania via the Unity Bridge across the Rovuma River at Negomano.  Follow the road Eastwards to Mueda, and then south to Montepuez. From Montepuez take the Road 242 west towards Balama, and Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.
From Pemba
Follow the road 242 west towards Montepuez, Balama and Marrupa. From Marrupa travel north straight to the Reserve and the entrance gate at Kiboko across the Lugenda River.
During the rainy season between late December and end of May travel in the Reserve can be extremely difficult.  Any traveller intending to visit during this time should check on conditions before hand with the Reserve HQ.

By Air

  • There are regular domestic flights from Maputo to Pemba International Airport and Lichinga via Nampula and/or Tete.  Direct international flights from Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg to Pemba
  • There are several air charter companies, based in Nampula, Pemba and Malawi that are well acquainted with the Reserve.

 

Niassa : source : http://www.niassareserve.org