N’Djamena, Chad: African Parks was honoured to receive the Field Marshal of Chad, President of the Republic, head of State, Idriss Deby Itno in Zakouma National Park on December 10th - 11th.  The Presidential delegation, which included Ministers, Advisors and Governor of Salamat, visited the park as part of an official tour of Salamat, Batha and Guera provinces.  

Zakouma National Park forms part of the Greater Zakouma Ecosystem, a crucial network of connected reserves brought under an extended management agreement first initiated between the Government of the Republic of Chad and conservation non-profit African Parks in 2010. This unique Sudano-Sahelian landscape has since become a safe haven for wildlife, a source of benefits for people and an internationally regarded nature destination thanks to the Chadian Government’s exemplary conservation actions.

“A decision was taken to call on specialists with long-standing experience, such as African Parks, with whom we have signed park management agreements for the rehabilitation of species which are on the verge of extinction. We must salute the efforts made by Chadians and African Parks with funding from the European Union. Today, Zakouma National Park is rehabilitated. I would therefore like to ask Chadians instead of going elsewhere, to come and see their park. We are in the process of requesting that this park be proclaimed a World Heritage Site. I appeal here to all Chadians to come and discover Zakouma National Park. This is their park. It is a national asset, which has biodiversity that exists nowhere else” said the Field Marshal of Chad, President of the Republic, head of State, Idriss Deby Itno.

During the official visit,  the Field Marshal of Chad, President of the Republic, head of State, Idriss Deby Itno ,was accompanied by a delegation including the Minister of Environment and Fisheries Mr. Brahim Djamaladine Mahamat, the Minister of Public Security, Mr. Mahamat Tahir Rozi, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralised Territorial Collectives, Mr. Ismael Chaibo, and. They undertook a tour of Zakouma and participated in a Presidential Audience with senior representatives of African Parks, assessing key developments and future steps to ensure the delivery of long-term benefits for people and wildlife.  

“The Greater Zakouma Ecosystem and Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve are two of the world’s most exceptional wild landscapes – profoundly significant for their biodiversity and human history. The Chadian Government under the  Field Marshal of Chad, President of the Republic, head of State, Idriss Deby Itno has shown tremendous foresight in enacting measures through our partnership to ensure their protection, a commitment underscored by this Presidential visit to Zakouma” said African Parks’ CEO Peter Fearnhead. “Thanks to their leadership, both Zakouma and Ennedi are experiencing renewal. We look forward to building on this progress with the Chadian Government as well as with our financial partners to enhance the parks’ contributions to local communities and to national development”.  

Located between the Sahara Desert and the fertile rainforest regions of Central Africa, Zakouma contains some of the most important populations of West and Central African wildlife. It is refuge to Chad’s largest population of elephants and over half of the world’s remaining population of Kordofan giraffes.

10 years of partnership between the Chadian Government and African Parks have given rise to one of Africa’s most successful conservation stories. Poaching has been almost completely eliminated, enabling the elephant population – reduced by 95 percent between 2002 and 2010 – to grow for the first time in decades and other species, including black rhino, to return. Not only are local communities also benefitting from improved security, but from the development of schools, employment opportunities and from Zakouma’s contribution through tourism to the local and national economy. In 2019, TIME magazine named Zakouma as one of the World’s Greatest Places.

Zakouma’s economic and ecological transformation is enabled by the vital support of the European Union, Fondation Segré and several other private and institutional donors.

About Zakouma National Park: The Greater Zakouma Ecosystem, situated just south of the Sahara Desert and above the rainforest regions of the equator, is a unique Sudano-Sahelian wilderness that is refuge for some of the most important wildlife populations in Central and West Africa. Among these are lion, Kordofan giraffe and the country’s largest population of elephants. The Republic of Chad partnered with African Parks for the management of Zakouma National Park, spanning 3,054 km2, in 2010, which was followed by the incorporation of Siniaka Minia Faunal Reserve, Bahr Salamat Faunal Reserve, and adjoining wildlife corridors within the mandate in 2017, expanding the area of protection to 30,693 km2. Effective park management has dramatically improved security for people and wildlife, helping to restore Zakouma, create a globally respected nature destination and a source of value for local people, forming a true conservation success story. To find out more please visit www.africanparks.org.