Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) co-founder Dr Andrea Marshall welcomed the Duke of Sussex and a US congressional delegation to Mozambique and gave them a virtual tour of the country’s extraordinarily rich underwater world.
The visit in August was part of MMF’s ongoing efforts to promote and expand Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the region.
As President of the African Parks environmental NGO, Prince Harry and African Parks’ CEO, Peter Fearnhead, co-hosted the US congressional delegation – which included US Senators and House Representatives – and groups of global leaders in conservation, philanthropy and community development.
Protecting the ‘marine Serengeti’
The groups visited the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park – dubbed the ‘Marine Serengeti’ of Africa as its waters support an outstanding number of marine megafauna species, from the majestic manta ray to the critically endangered rhino rays. Bazaruto was the first MPA to be managed by African Parks, and its waters form part of a new Mission Blue Hope Spot, a status that MMF helped the region secure earlier in 2022.
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During the visit, Dr Marshall shared MMF’s immersive virtual reality (VR) experience, allowing delegates to experience the underwater world of Mozambique first-hand – but without getting wet. The VR project is designed to help local communities develop a positive relationship with the ocean to spur them towards becoming ocean champions themselves.
‘[The delegates] understood immediately what we are trying to achieve here, showing genuine enthusiasm for the project,’ said Dr Marshall. ‘They agreed that VR could be instrumental in changing an entire generation’s relationship with their environment – from not knowing about and fearing the ocean, to instilling a sense of joyful curiosity, all through this new cutting-edge immersive technology. It was a fantastic response.’
A model for African Parks
As President of African Parks, Prince Harry actively works with the leadership team to help advance their goal of rehabilitating each park to make it socially, financially and ecologically sustainable in the longterm. The non-profit conservation organization currently manages 22 parks and protected areas in 12 countries, and aims to make that 30 parks by 2030.
Bazaruto is seen as a model for the creation of effective natural resource management that safeguards biodiversity while improving the surrounding communities and attracting tourism.
MMF collaborates with African Parks by filling knowledge gaps about Bazaruto’s megafauna through active monitoring and scientific studies, and providing information to help guide local, provincial and national conservation management plans.
In addition to MMF’s ongoing projects and educational efforts in the Inhambane Province, the Foundation is currently working with a number of NGOs, investors and stakeholders on the development and promotion of a new Environmental Protection Area (EPA) along the Inhambane Seascape.
The new EPA has been designed to protect critical habitat for marine megafauna and safeguard key areas for biodiversity – a major step forward in preserving some of the most important marine megafauna populations in Africa.
The Bazaruto Archipelago National Park spans 1,430 sq km and is home to several species of marine mammals – including threatened dugongs and humpback dolphins – as well as five species of nesting sea turtles, marlin, manta rays and whale sharks. The MPA also provides one of the most important habitats in Africa for the critically endangered rhino ray.
The official US delegation – which included Senators Chris Coons, Gary Peters and Robert Portman and House Representatives David Joyce, Chrissy Houlahan and David Price – was there to help generate interest in the region and unlock support from the US government and its constituents for marine conservation in Mozambique.
‘It was a very successful event and there is more momentum than ever to support the expansion and management of a protected seascape in the region,’ said Dr Marshall.
This article is edited from the original version published on Marine Megafauna Foundation’s website. To read the complete article, and learn more about MMF’s work, visit For more information about Marine Megafauna Foundation, visit the website at www.marinemegafauna.org or follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.