Deep in the Central African Republic (CAR) lies an unknown wildlife refuge that is starting to thrive once again
Nestled in Eastern Central African Republic (CAR) in a region plagued decades of civil war and insecurity, lies a wildlife refuge called Chinko. At a vast 20,000 km2, Chinko has emerged as a bright spot for both biodiversity and governance. Prior to African Parks signing a 50-year mandate with the Government in 2014, hundreds of thousands of cattle and armed herders overran the park. Poaching and natural resource exploitation were rampant; and the ethnic violence inflicted upon civilians was beyond devastating. Despite this vast bands of wooded savanna and rainforest have remained intact and effective law enforcement efforts over the last six years have allowed key wildlife populations to grow, making Chinko one of the largest ecosystems with the greatest conservation potential in all of Central Africa.
Even more remarkable is the life-saving role Chinko is playing for people. In this war-torn corner of the world, Chinko is the only stabilizing force in the entire region for the people who live here. While ethnic violence has plagued CAR for years, a humanitarian crisis came to head in 2017 when 380 Internally Displaced People, mainly women and children, fled into Chinko to prevent being slaughtered and were protected by our rangers. After months of being provided with safety, food, water, shelter, healthcare and even employment, in June 2018 they voluntarily relocated back to their village with our support and assistance.
In a place with little to no economic opportunity, Chinko has remained the largest employer in the region since 2014 with hundreds of people having found employment year after year. Salaries for schoolteachers, doctors and nurses are being provided; and markets have emerged to support Chinko’s staff, fueling a conservation-led economy. For the first time, Chinko’s value is not just being recognised, it is being lived. Local communities as well as the park employees can see their future; they speak of their children’s future, and they talk of a tomorrow that is inextricably linked to the bedrock that is Chinko.
Regional security has been improved by Chinko serving as a security buffer, deterring rebel forces and Sudanese poachers. We will implement the new 25-year agreement with the Government to increase the area of influence in Eastern CAR. In addition, Chinko representatives stationed in key communities will continue to build support and carry out economic development activities through training and securing basic social services. We are also exploring means of providing economic returns through fishing tourism.
Chinko is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the CAR Ministry of Environment for Sustainable Development of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing.African Parks has a mandate to manage this important protected area for 50 years. This partnership assures that Chinko supports local communities, protects the ecosystem, and maintains economic value through tourism – providing the key to a sustainable future for this unique ecosystem.View Partners
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