Although dry northern Mozambique seems like the ideal bush for wildlife until we start seeing the burnt and clear cut areas.
“Where is your visa?”
The border post worker ask thumbing through my passport. “Ah, that’s why we are here, to get it from you!” I respond.
Two hours later after much ado. No power, waiting for the right person, organizing payment, and waiting, we are in Mozambique heading for Tete.
The beautiful countryside is bone dry. The bush and trees still mostly dormant. Dotted along the way are quaint simply mud brick homes with thatch roofs. They don’t appear to be growing anything, but then it may be too early as the summer rains are stalling their arrival.
People bathe and wash in what remains of the few flowing rivers.
I begin to notice patches, large patches, of burnt areas. At first I think they must be to encourage the grass to grow for their livestock (they do that in South Africa.) But no grass is growing, so I scratch that theory. Maybe it’s careless drivers tossing out a cigarette? Strange though, they never seem to burn very large areas. Almost like controlled fires.
Then we start seeing them. The bags piled along the highway. Behind them are the small homes standing in clear cut areas. The trees are gone. Charcoal! They’re making charcoal!
Along the entire route from the Zimbabwe border in the west to Malawi in the east we see nothing but bag after bag of charcoal for sale. Truckers stop to buy. Bicycles are laden with three or four bags. Women balance a large bag on their heads. This entire section of northern Mozambique appears to be going up in smoke… to make charcoal.
What is all this charcoal for? Charcoal is primarily used for cooking, less heating as it is mainly warm here, this close to the equator.
Later on we find out that this rural industry is a big problem. The demand in the villages and towns far outweighs the supply of trees still available. Scary prospect! Hopefully, as we move on, we’ll find out what is being done to address this unsustainable onslaught on nature, on this beautiful section of northern Mozambique.