Delegation of the European Union to Myanmar

Managing the Zakouma National Park in Chad

24/08/2018 - 14:43
Environment and Climate Action

Conservation and good governance of natural resources of theZakouma National Park (PNZ) and its ecosystems for the benefit of local development.

Total Cost (EUR): 7 669 000

EU contracted amount (EUR): 6 900 000

Duration: January 2011 - January 2016


Funding Instrument: European Development Fund (EDF)

Benefitting zone: Chad


STORY : Protecting wildlife and supporting livelihoods in Chad

People now see the park as part of their local, national and global heritage.

Babakar Matar Bremé, assistant director, Zakouma National Park, Chad



Zakouma National Park is one of the last remaining intact Sudano-Sahelian ecosystems in Africa. The park was founded in 1963 by the Chadian Government and the EU has supported the park for over 15 years. It became a public-private partnership in 2010, run by African Parks Network and the Chadian Government.



To support the management of the Zakouma National Park



  • There has been only one poaching incident in the park since 2011 and the population is increasing.
  • New-born calves have been observed for the first time in many years; 40 have been born since 2013.
  • A new village radio system was set-up and has improved communication links between the park and its neighbours.
  • A camp ground is available for Chadian nationals free of charge and for school groups on environmental field trips.
  • The park helps to provide for the social, education and health needs of the local communities. A school building programme began in 2013, with 7 schools planned over a five-year period. More children attend school now, and people’s quality of life has improved thanks to the provision of healthcare.



Zakouma National Park: A unique place for both people and animals

Babakar Matar Bremé gets to work by 6am, ready for another day as assistant director of Zakouma National Park in Chad.A water and forestry engineer, Bremé is seconded by the Chadian Environment Ministry to Zakouma.

 "I spend a lot of time working to maintain relations between the park and those living nearby," Bremé explains. "It isn't always easy. Poaching has been a big problem, and there has been disagreement concerning the park's boundaries. But we have made a lot of improvements: we've trained guards on how to question detainees, how to conduct investigations and how to draw up charges."

Elsewhere in the Salamat region, the once plentiful wildlife has been all but wiped out. Zakouma survived, but at considerable human cost: some 25 guards have died protecting the park from poachers over the years.

When a new wave of poaching in 2002 to 2010 saw 4 000 elephants killed, with armed groups coming from as far as Darfur in Sudan to slaughter the animals for their tusks, the Chadian Government and the EU approached international conservation NGO African Parks Network, led by director Rian Labuschagne, to take over the management of the park.

African Parks put in place a robust security regime, and fitted GPS collars to elephants for staff to monitor herd movements and to deploy anti-poaching patrols to where the animals are. They introduced a radio system to keep patrols in contact with an operations centre and have two planes for surveillance and aerial monitoring. They built airstrips to allow guards to reach elephants during the rainy season, when most roads are impassable.The results have been remarkable.

Bremé and his staff of teachers and community workers were always aware that security was only one aspect of their work and that they needed the support of local communities if their conservation efforts were to be a success. They worked with local communities and were successful in getting them to agree to create wildlife migration corridors to ensure the free movement of migratory herds. This also permits certain types of land use, such as grazing and grass and wood collection within the park boundaries, for the locals, but not agriculture or settlement.

"Until recently, the park was seen as something that belonged to white people. But now thanks to greater awareness and the involvement of the authorities, that perception has changed," says Bremé.



  • The park, one of the most important protected areas in central Africa, home to migratory populations of elephant, gazelle, giraffe, crane and ostrich.
  • The government has been committed to protecting the park even through many years of conflict; they have recently nominated it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 'African Parks' manage 8 national parks and protected areas in 7 African countries through partnerships with governments and communities.




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