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Zakouma's wild elephants learn to trust again


African Parks have restored safety to Zakouma National Park and its elephant population is beginning to recover. Elephants themselves are even beginning to trust humans again.

Between 2002 and 2010, Zakouma National Park was largely abandoned by any authority and its wildlife was decimated by poaching. The people living on the borders of Zakouma suffered too. Over 4000 elephants were slaughtered, leaving only 450 remaining. When African Parks assumed management in 2011 they counted only one elephant calf in the entire park.

After years of hard work overhauling the law enforcement of Zakouma, the wildlife is beginning to recover. Because of the persistent efforts of the rangers, only 24 elephants are known to have been poached in the past eight years. Last year, 103 elephant calves under 3 years old were counted, a wonderful sign of successful conservation efforts!

African Parks has fitted several elephant herds with satellite collars to enable them to monitor the family groups and intervene if necessary to ensure the elephant’s safety, as well as reducing conflict with humans should the herds roam too close to settlements.

When Nicola visited Chad in 2018, she witnessed the most moving sight – a family of elephants approached the ranger station to drink water from the rangers’ own hands. They regularly choose to drink this way in preference to the watering hole. To be so close to them and to witness the way the rangers interacted with them was such a special experience.

As well as elephant populations, there are many other species that are benefiting from the safety of Zakouma. Also increasing in number in Zakouma are the kordofan giraffe, the roan antelope and Lelwel’s hartebeest, as well as buffalo which as greatly increased.

The rangers have worked closely with local communities to establish networks who will notify the park authorities of suspicious activity. They have also set up several schools and arranged for over 3500 local villagers including children to visit the park. The communities around the park have also benefitted from supplying the rangers and tourist camps with local produce, generating additional income.

Where can you stay?

Zakouma has the finest wildlife experience. The most fantastic opportunity is to stay at Camp Nomade, a small tented camp looking across the Rigueik pans, where the wildlife comes to you.

One can hear the lions roaring nearby every night, and by day one can watch the myriad of birdlife in the skies and drinking in the pans, alongside various species of antelope as well as the beautiful kordofan giraffe. Walking and jeep safaris are conducted with expert guides, and there is a fabulous cultural aspect where one can visit villages that are untouched by western culture.

The guides are phenomenal and tailor the experiences to your interests, taking you to see the herds of elephant or, should you wish, setting up a fly camp for you and the other guests where you can sleep out under the stars.

This is an experience like no other! Even the experienced safari-goer will be astounded by Zakouma. Find out more.

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