The lions of Gorongosa Park suffered one of the biggest losses of any large mammal during Mozambique’s civil conflict, from over 200 in 1977 to single digits at the end of the fighting. Since the restoration project began, lions have begun their steady recovery, and over the past two years, researcher Paola Bouley and her team — the Gorongosa Lion Project — have already identified over 65 lions in just 20 percent of the park. Together with park vet Rui Branco, the team has deployed satellite tracking collars in many of the prides starting in 2013 with the first male “M02,” who was then ruling the Sungue Pride.

Nature is resilient, but its sighs of relief, its trends of recovery and resurgence, require more than reforestation of mountainsides and protections against poaching. A pack of African wild dogs (a native predator, lost during the war) was released into the park in 2018, after weeks of acclimation in a large pen. A small herd of zebras also trotted cautiously from their corral into a trailer and then into the wild. And a solitary leopard was spotted.

This incredible park is making an equally incredible come back and is well deserving if a visit on your next Mozambique safari adventure!