Chad is a country deep in poverty, which has faced severe corruption, political strife, and climate catastrophe.
Zakouma National Park was dying before the rangers’ eyes, and elephants were killed by poachers often. Neighboring Sudan’s janjaweed militias had notoriously sold elephant ivory to help fund their terror campaign. Some rangers had lost their lives trying to protect wildlife, and the survivors were giving up all hope. In eight years, there was a 90% drop in the elephant population.
In 2010, African Parks stepped in, an organization dedicated to rehabilitating the national parks in Africa. It provided GPS units to the rangers, provided them with professional training, and boosted morale by giving locals real say in policy. The elephant population is growing, and there is now a large herd of 500.
Here’s a story excerpt from National Geographic, talking to Rian Labuschagne, who helps manage the park:
“If you get the local people to take ownership and believe in the value of a park, then that is the strongest conservation system you can put in place,” he says. “Even if you leave, even if there’s political turmoil—whatever happens—that management team will go forward.”
Yet, so far Labuschagne has remained, even in the difficult wet season, helping to watch over the park and its elephants.
Photo: taken at the Elephant Nature Park