Garamba, DRC: After three years of negotiations, African Parks renewed the management agreement with ICCN (the Institut Congolais pour La Conservation de la Nature) to manage Garamba for an additional 10 years. The new management agreement is a robust one and the relationship with ICCN is stronger than it has ever been, and the Garamba Board is functioning extremely well. All of this bodes well for securing additional funding for the park through the European Union’s 11th EDF framework.
On January 24th, we embarked on our collaring work to help monitor and protect the parks’ elephants and giraffe (of which there are only 38 left in the whole of DRC, all are found in Garamba). Eight giraffe have been collared so far, as have 10 elephants (one male and nine females). There were already 21 elephants collared in the park, but this latest crop includes herds for which we had no information, and will help provide valuable data on their core area and habitat use.
Zakouma, Chad: On January 22nd, two poachers on horseback managed to reach the main elephant herd in Zakouma and sprayed the herd with machine gun fire. Two of our teams were close by and heard the shots, however despite their quick response, were unable to catch the poachers in the thick bush but followed their trail outside the park. Sadly three adult elephants died from their wounds, and tragically a calf was crushed by her injured mother, bringing the total number to four. President Deby responded immediately and tasked the Governor to implement a large military sweep around the park, but unfortunately no leads were gathered. While we continue to secure the park, we are preparing for the collaring of several elephants later in February.
Liuwa Plain, Zambia: Earlier this month African Parks and the award-winning Norman Carr Safaris group announced the conclusion of the agreement to construct and operate “Mambeti”, the long-awaited luxury camp in Liuwa. The building of Mambeti was made possible through the generous support of a few private donors, while the design and construction is being implemented by Norman Carr Safaris, who will also manage and market the camp. Construction will start in February and it is expected to open in early 2017.
We were also pleased to recently work with world renowned photographer Will Burrard-Lucas who stayed at Liuwa in December to capture all of the parks diversity, ruggedness and beauty. If you’d like to view a gallery of some of his extraordinary images, please see below:
Chinko, CAR: Anti-poaching patrols are in full force and the core area is being secured and protected, with the team maintaining the perimeter and keeping large groups of cattle herders out of the core zone. We are preparing for the collaring of giant eland before the end of February.
Odzala, Congo: Interesting data have emerged from the recent female elephant collared in December that show her movements from east of the park to the new Pikounda National Park, verifying for us that there is an important corridor between these two Protected Areas.
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Brazzaville donated $70,000 to Odzala to be used for the repair and maintenance of 42 km of roads in the park that connect the two tourist camps, Mboko and Lango, with the airstrip and the town of Mbomo. The roads are used by Odzala eco-guard units for anti-poaching patrols as well as provide needed access for tourists who stay at the lodges operated by CCC (Congo Conservation Company) and come to see elephants and gorillas in the wild.
Liwonde, Malawi: The fencing project is well underway with significant community involvement. Our teams are working with local authorities and communities to explain its importance from a protection standpoint as well as an economical one, as it provides employment opportunities for construction and protection from vandalism. Village sensitization workshops have been implemented with positive response so far from surrounding communities who are relieved to reduce the risk of conflict. More than 7,000 wire snares have been removed from the park since African Parks assumed management responsibility.
Majete, Malawi: Wildlife continues to flourish in Majete with all rhino being spotted in the last month. Two calves have been born in the last month and have been sexed as one male and one female. Further excellent news is that there is a new litter of lion cubs with one cub being captured on camera trap.