In 2007, a category 4 cyclone called Favio moved directly over the Sanctuary; it was the most intense cyclone ever recorded in the region with winds in excess of 180 km/hour recorded.
Developed sites along the shoreline sustained the most damage compared to infrastructure inland which is more sheltered from wind and rain by the natural vegetation. The main damage was to structures made from canvas material and/or wooden support beams / pillars, jecca roofs and windows and doors that were blown open by the high winds. No masonry walls were seriously damaged despite minor cracks in some. The Sanctuary’s workshop was destroyed, due to it being roofed in corrugated iron /asbestos sheeting which blew off.
Structures built in water (jetties) or below the high tide water mark (seawalls) were severely damaged (Dugong, left). Dunes on the sand spits were severely affected, and some chalets at Nyati Lodge were almost covered by sand dunes. Much of Nyati’s infrastructure (below) was destroyed as most were constructed of wood, canico and jecca.
Round huts, like staff houses in Sanctuary’s staff village, were unscarred – even with canico walls. There was virtually no damage to the houses in the staff village. Many houses and some schools within the community area were destroyed, and structural damage was caused to remaining schools, churches and the clinic. Most crops were severely impacted. Thankfully no deaths or injuries were reported.
Damage to the main water system was limited to the pipeline connecting Linene Island with the Sanctuary.
As this was our first experience of a cyclone at The Sanctuary our recovery response was largely improvised and reactive. Builders and architects quickly got to work rebuilding and repairing damaged sites, providing much needed work and income for the local community who had been gravely affected by the cyclone. There was insufficient food, diesel, petrol and other utility items available in Vilanculos for some time after the cyclone. At the time Bonita Lda was not yet operational but shortages experienced provided impetus to establish a Sanctuary based supply of provisions and fuel which is critical in the immediate aftermath of a cyclone as Vilanculos will be as badly affected. The World Food Program, NGO’s, The Sanctuary and some owners donated food, medical supplies, short term shelter, tarpaulins and building material to the community.