National Geographic : 2001 Sep
BY PETER GODWIN PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS JOHNS NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHER he fence along the eastern side of Kruger National Park is a mighty fence indeed. Five thick cables and a tough web of diamond mesh are stretched between anchor posts made of railway track rooted in con crete. There is something starkly alien about this vast man-made cordon, this African Iron Curtain. Its silver spine slices in a straight line for nearly 250 miles across the bush, following an arbitrary colonial border, dividing an ecosystem, and blocking ancient game trails. But it has been the most vital weapon protect ing South Africa's flagship wildlife sanctuary from the wildlife Armageddon on the other side. On the other side few birds sing. You can fly over it for hours, as I did, skimming beneath the towering cumulonimbus clouds and craning down at Coutada 16, the Mozambican wilderness area that adjoins Kruger, and see not a single animal, not a solitary game trail. Twenty years of civil war cost Mozam bique perhaps a million human lives and devastated its wildlife.