“Chad you say? I used to go to high school with a guy called Chad. Can’t really remember much about him.” No, not that Chad. I’m talking about the country in north-central Africa. Officially the Republic of Chad, it is bordered by Libya to the north, the Central African Republic to the south, Niger to the west and Sudan to the east. If the countries listed above aren’t high on your travel radar, then we fully understand, as a few of them have ongoing conflicts. Amongst all the difficulties in the region, there is a great success story coming out of Chad. Zakouma National Park (ZNP), located in the south of Chad, has seen prosperity and devastation, but is now experiencing a revival.
History of Zakouma
ZNP is an important area of conservation for the Sudano-Sahelian ecosystem. The story of Zakouma goes all the way back to 1963 when it was decreed a national park, giving it the highest form of protection. For 10 – 12 years ZNP enjoyed a great deal of prosperity. In 1975 there was a coup in the country, and for the next 30 years Chad was plunged into intermittent periods of order and civil conflict. ZNP consequently suffered from all the repercussions that came with the fighting and unrest. Rampant wildlife poaching, particularly to the elephant population (for ivory to fund the ongoing conflict), put the park on the brink of complete collapse.
African Parks Take Over
In 2010 African Parks took control of ZNP to renew it and put a stop to the scourge of poaching. Bringing conservation areas and parks back from the brink of collapse is no easy task and Zakouma is no different. Through promoting economic development and poverty alleviation, African Parks has had great success in ZNP. Some achievements include:
- After two years of taking over management, elephant poaching was halted within the extended elephant range
- In 1986 the buffalo population was 220, now it numbers over 10,000
- Tracking collars have been fitted to elephant herds, meaning better monitoring and deploying field patrols
- Improved communication channels between the park authorities and communities means rangers can be notified of threats and suspicious activity
- Establishing a security force and anti-poaching unit
- 1,267 children receive education from Zakouma supported schools
What Does This Mean for Travelers?
Even with all the difficulties ZNP has experienced over its lifetime, visitors will be surprised at just how well it stacks up to other national parks in Africa. The professional manner in which the park is run and the concentration of wildlife will astonish visitors.
Run-of-the-mill safari trips across Africa provide travellers with a degree of assurance because they have been tried and tested many times. While we understand the allure of these trips, ZNP offers a unique experience. The park is still trying to find its feet after decades of neglect and conflict, so this is a destination that hasn’t been experienced by many people. This also means visitors will enjoy a park that’s not teeming with other people.
When it comes to animal life, this is a park of pure abundance. Elephants, lions, wildebeest, leopards, baboons and water buffalo are just a couple of Zakouma’s residents. Along with 388 bird species that reside within Zakouma, where the park’s floodplains, marshes and pans are a valuable breeding ground for birds. 40 raptor species can be spotted in the park, along with an abundance of northern carmine bee-eaters & red-billed queleas.
Breathing new life into ZNP has taken a great amount of time, energy and effort, but the rewards are slowly beginning to show. Part of this new lease on life, ZNP is sparking interest among many nature and safari lovers. Travelling in itself is rewarding, but travelling to unexplored destinations is even more rewarding, and Wild Frontiers is thrilled to announce a scheduled departure to Zakouma National Park in 2018. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.