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.

Chinko Highlights

  • African Parks was awarded the mandate to manage the park in 2014 for 50 years.
  • Chinko is the largest employer outside of the capital of Bangui with more than 250 local people employed and is by far the largest taxpayer in Eastern CAR.
  • African Parks established Chinko’s first law enforcement unit, currently comprising of over 60 rangers, who have undergone specialised law enforcement training.
  • A core protection zone of 6,000 km2 completely free of threats has been secured and many wildlife species are being seen more frequently.
  • Chinko recruited, trained and deployed 45 Transhumance Sensitization Officers to monitor and educate transhumant herders coming into the CAR from Sudan, one of the major threats in the area. These Officers engage with herders and prevent them from driving cattle through Chinko by guiding them towards designated corridors to avoid sensitive wildlife habitats.
  • Wildlife surveys show steady increases in most key wildlife populations, documenting more than 1,000 Eastern chimpanzees, at least 60 elephants, more than 3,000 West African buffalo, and over 600 Lord Derby’s eland. Over 75 African wild dogs and 30 Northern lions were also recorded with many more expected to reside within the reserve.
  • In 2019, the park engaged financially supported 58 farmers and 27 soap makers (the majority of whom are women), and refurbished a local market as well as a vehicle ferry, to support the local economy. Forty-five schoolteachers and three medical staff from the local communities were provided with salary contributions and additional training.    

Partners

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.

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