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Gorongosa’s Grasslands

“The true bounty of Mozambique lies inland – in the forests of Mount Gorongosa and on the teeming plains of Gorongosa National Park". - Go! Magazine

None of the many plant communities of Gorongosa is more important than the grasslands. Nearly 90 grass species have been found in the Park, and grasslands make up almost 20% of the Park’s area.

 

Gorongosa’s large, open grasslands depend on naturally occurring fires and heavy grazing by herbivores. If fire is not allowed to sweep occasionally through these open habitats, or if grazing by animals falls dramatically, grasslands quickly become choked by invading shrubby and woody vegetation, depriving many of Gorongosa’s grazers of prime feeding areas. Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem in Gorongosa, and humans have used fire in this region for more than 150,000 years. Fires release nutrients and remove old, dry grasses above ground, allowing new growth to sprout from the roots when the rains arrive.  These areas of lush, green re-growth provide prime feeding grounds for many of Gorongosa’s grazers, including waterbuck, wildebeest, and African buffalo.

 

These grasses don’t just provide food for many animals, they also protect Gorongosa’s soils from erosion and help hold in moisture, giving other organisms the right conditions to thrive. Grass clumps slow down rainwater that would otherwise run off the surface, letting water seep into the soil and giving life to the plant roots and small animals underground.