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Total Cost (EUR): 7 669 000
EU contracted amount (EUR): 6 900 000
Duration: January 2011 - January 2016
Implementing organisation: STICHTING AFRICAN PARKS FOUNDATION
Funding Instrument: European Development Fund (EDF)
Benefitting zone: Chad
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
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.