The elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park were supposed to have been wiped out by now. Instead their numbers are growing.
The Zakouma National Park is situated just south of the Sahara desert and above the fertile rainforest regions. It is one of the last remaining intact Sundano-Sahelian ecosystems.
This extremely important protected area was declared a National Park by the Chadian government in 1963. However, poaching has driven a massive decline in the elephant population, with numbers dropping from 4,000 in 2002 to just 450 in 2010.
Poaching is largely driven by the illegal ivory trade in China and elsewhere in Asia. Between 2007 and 2014 poaching contributed to a 30 per cent decline in savannah elephant populations overall. Experts predicted that Zakouma’s remaining elephants would be gone within two or three years, if drastic action was not taken.
Desperate for a solution, the Chad government brought in African Parks, the South African non-profit that specialises in rehabilitating failing protected areas around the continent. Since African Parks took over management, the elephant population has stabilised and is now finally on the increase due to improved management and a more effective anti-poaching strategy. Without the stress of poaching, elephants have started breeding again, with 70 calves born last year.
With giraffe, antelope, Lewel’s hartebeest and buffalo populations all on the rise, Zakouma is once again emerging as a coveted tourist destination to the benefit of adjacent communities whose livelihoods have improved considerably.
The Park plans on improving the educational curriculum and expanding on the four Elephant Schools that address the challenge of a dispersed local population. The reintroduction of black rhino corridor and the creation of an elephant corridor beyond the Park are priority conservation projects that are already under planning and investigation.
You can help support the African Parks organisation, by making a donation via their website here