With a shake of his head and downcast eyes, Carlos Pacheco Faria’s voice dropped in volume and register. “The devastation to human lives, the country’s infrastructure, and the Zambeze Delta’s wildlife was total. There were unburied bodies scattered in the forest, but when the war ceased in 1992, no living people remained other than leftover soldiers from the resistance force known as RENAMO. It was a wasteland, a void. There were many more bodies of dead soldiers and local villagers than there were animals left in the entire Marromeu Complex at the time the Peace Accord was signed in 1992.”

Born on June 29th 1946, in Maputo, Mozambique to a Mozambiquan mother and a father from Portugal’s Azores Island chain, Carlos’ love for his home country is palpable. His pain from witnessing the horrors of the 16-year-long Civil War was evident in his words and countenance. Carlos’ graphic description and intensely sad feelings concerning the state of Mozambique at the end of the long conflict, belies the fact that, like his good friend and business partner, Mark Haldane, he is a natural optimist and visionary.

Carlos and I were relaxing with afternoon coffee in the open-air, dining room in Zambeze Delta Safaris’ Mungari Camp. One of two camps in ZDS’s Coutada 11 concession, the beautiful setting, and wonderful present-day accommodations at Mungari, reflect Carlos’ and Mark’s willingness to see past the devastation of 1992. In fact, Carlos believed so profoundly in the possibility of human and ecosystem resurrection within Coutada 11 and the entire Marromeu Complex that in July 1992, he purchased the rights to set up hunting in Coutada 11 from the Mozambiquan Ministry of Agriculture. As he left the governmental offices, the words of friends who called him crazy for the purchase rang in his ears. Carlos laughed his infectious laugh and stated “On the surface, signing that document and paying the concession fee was one of the most stupid things I have ever done!” You see, the war was still raging, and the Peace Accord giving access to Coutada 11 would remain unsigned for another four months.

It was nearly a year to the day after the purchase of the concession before a team arrived at Coutada 11. A large, but ironic, smile broke out across Carlos’ face as he remembered July 1993. “We were very excited to send our first team in to look around. We wanted to know everything! Were any of the old Portuguese hunting camps still standing, what was the condition of the airstrip, and most of all, how were the numbers and trophy quality of the game animals?” He hesitated so I prompted with “And?” A large sigh preceded the simple statement “And, remaining guerrilla fighters kidnapped our team.”


Excerpt from Mike’s Upcoming Book: BRINGING BACK THE LIONS: International Hunters, Local Tribespeople, and the Miraculous Rescue of a Doomed Ecosystem in Mozambique

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