From: Science News
War wrecked an African ecosystem. Ecologists are trying to restore it
The national park at the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley was once considered a wildlife paradise. Hippopotamuses lolled in the lush waters of Mozambique’s Lake Urema, and thousands of antelope bounded across the park’s savannas and floodplains. Elephant herds and prides of lions drew international tourists.
Then civil war erupted in the southeast African nation in 1977, leaving Gorongosa National Park in shambles. Closed in 1983, the sanctuary became a battleground, with animals slaughtered for food or — in the case of elephants — ivory to fund the fighting. Populations of African buffalo, blue wildebeest and zebra, thousands strong, plummeted until 15 or less of each remained. Hundreds of lions, leopards and wild dogs fled, starved or died in snares and steel-jaw traps. By the war’s end in 1992, only lions remained, their numbers in the single digits.