Zakouma National Park in Chad is especially renowned for its free roaming herds of African elephants. The population was greatly reduced by a frenzy of poaching between 2000-2010, but their numbers are now on the rise again. Thanks to an overhaul of anti-poaching strategy, there has not been a single elephant killed inside the 19,000-square-mile park for nearly three years.
The remaining key species in the park are stable or on the increase and in general the ecosystem is healthy with the water buffalo population in particular showing a huge recovery from an estimated 220 in 1986 to just over 10,000 in 2014.
The relationship between the park and local communities is better than it has ever been as local people are reaping the benefits from extensive law enforcement patrols in their areas, according to AfricanParks.org.
In 2013 a toll-free cell phone number was set up to provide a means by which people can easily and anonymously transmit information regarding potential poaching threats to Chad’s elephant populations. Additionally village radios were installed in 16 villages in Zakouma’s periphery, providing a reliable means of reporting suspicious activity concerning the security of both the local population and the elephants. These radios enable the villages to be in 24-hour radio communication with our control room in Zakouma.
Photo of African elephant herd by Vaughan Leiberum (CC license)