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Gorongosa National Park Steadily Recovering from the Ravages of Civil War

Late in November, after three grinding years of begging, bartering, form-filling, false starts and blind alleys, and finally through the added pressures of a global pandemic, the wildlife team at Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique at last greeted the arrival of its newest celebrity: a female leopard, 3½ years old, from South Africa. The leopards’s traveling crate had been transferred from plane to truck, driven deep into a palm forest in the middle of the park’s 1,500 square miles and maneuvered beneath a sturdy Kigelia africana tree. Workers undid the straps that held the crate tightly closed, tossed a rope that was connected to the crate’s door over a tree branch, and threaded the dangling end through a small opening in a window of a team member’s truck. Gorongosa, a wildlife jewel, is steadily recovering from a violent civil war that wiped out nearly all the resident animals four decades ago. The release of the leopard — only the second in the park, after a male was discovered in 2018 — represents one more step in an ambitious plan to return the park’s vast and complex ecosystem to a state of sustainable vigor, with a dynamic balance between predator and prey.