Nestled in Eastern Central African Republic (CAR) in a war-torn region plagued by instability and deadly ethnic violence, lies a wildlife refuge called Chinko. Despite decades of civil war, intense poaching, illegal grazing and heavily armed herdsmen, remnant populations of key wildlife species have persisted, and vast swaths of wooded savanna and rainforest have remained intact, making this one of the largest ecosystems with the greatest conservation potential in all of Central Africa.

Over the last four years effective law enforcement has secured this 19,846 km2 landscape, keeping the main threats at bay, and a core zone of 10,500 km2 completely free of cattle. Prior to African Parks signing a 50-year mandate with the government in 2014, hundreds of thousands of cattle flooded the park. Today, they are only found on the boundary, and where cattle once grazed, herds of buffalo, hartebeest and hippos have taken their place. Lord Derby eland are on the rise and increasing signs of lions and elephants are being documented, and wildlife is slowly finding its way back into existence. And local people are benefiting from this new security as well. . In 2017, a humanitarian crisis developed when more than 380 Internally Displaced People (IDPs), mainly women and children, fled to Chinko seeking sanctuary from civil unrest that would almost certainly have led to certain death but were protected by the park and our rangers. Chinko is the largest employer in the region, and dozens of nurses and teachers are funded by the park.  In restoring security, Chinko has become a primary source of stability and safety in an entire region, for people and wildlife alike, slowly changing the trajectory of this war-torn corner of Africa.

Highlights

  • African Parks was awarded the mandate to manage the park in 2014 for 50 years.
  • Chinko was recognised by the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) as one of the top five international NGOs in the country for its contribution to national development.
  • Chinko is the largest employer outside of the capital of Bangui with more than 400 local people employed and is by far the largest tax payer in Eastern CAR.
  • African Parks established Chinko’s first law enforcement unit, currently comprising of 58 rangers, who undergone specialised law enforcement training.
  • A core protection zone of 10,500 km2 free of threats has been secured by the committed ranger team and wildlife are being seen more frequently.
  • A programme, using sensitisation teams deployed to engage with herders against driving cattle through Chinko, is underway with the goal of establishing routes to deviate them from the Chinko area.
  • The construction of headquarters and an improved 180 km road network, including 50 km of new roads, have been the first steps toward meeting Chinko’s critical need for infrastructure.
  • In the first monitoring project for the Lord Derby eland in of the park, individuals have been radio collared and 11 separate herds have been documented, with one herd comprising of more than 150 individuals.
  • 380 IDPs, mainly women and children, fled to Chinko for sanctuary from civil unrest. Chinko’s staff provided them with shelter, life saving provisions and healthcare until they were finally able to safely return to their homes a year later.

Partners

Chinko is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the CAR Ministry of Environment for Sustainable Development of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing and 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 thriving ecosystem.

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