BANHINE NATIONAL PARK
Banhine National Park is a protected area in northern Gaza Province, Mozambique. The park was established on 26 June 1973. In 2013 the limits of Park were updated to better reflect the realities on the ground, particularly the human presence in the area
The park is 7,250 square kilometres (2,800 square miles) 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 millimeters (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.
Administratively, the park is split between Chicualacuala District (2,400 square kilometres (930 square miles)), Chigubo District (3,000 square kilometres (1,200 square miles), and Mabalane District (1,600 square kilometres (620 square miles).
Fauna in Banhine National Park
There are 18 reported different fish species within the park and among them, African lungfish, two Killifish species and two barbell 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 Cape Buffalo, Sable, common tesssebe, hartebeest. Many of these animals were destroyed during the civil wars of the 1980s and early 1980 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, warthogs and Oribi. Predators such as leopards, lions, servals, spotted hyenas and even cheetahs are also found in the national park
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 best time to visit Banhine National Park
The dry months, between April and October are the best times to visit. Landscapes are dry crunchy and relatively easy to navigate. However, winter can be harsh and water scares, which means the wildlife will be on the move in search of water
From November to May is the rainy season, many roads are washed away during the heavy rains and not even 4×4 can navigate the swampy terrain. The in- between season are also a good time of the year to visit
Banhine National Park has little to no tourist development within the park. Visitors wishing to explore the area would need to stay elsewhere. Camping inside the park can be arranged through the right authorities. Visitors would need to bring all of their camping equipment.
Activities within this national park
Game viewing in the park can be quite rewarding during the peak safari season during the winter months. The park is a self-drive destination, and several jeep tracks meander through the drier regions and around the wetlands. A 4WD vehicle is required for game viewing excursions in this park. Adventurous visitors are encouraged to navigate towards the pans where there’s more chance of seeing wildlife.
Banhine is a fantastic place for birdwatching and thousands of migratory birds, flock to the area during the season. Keen birders won’t be disappointed with the variety of species to spot. Walking safaris are also possible in the park, but visitors should be mindful of predators.