Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve (ENCR), in north-east Chad, is over 50,000 km2 of natural sculpted landscape marked by cliffs, arches, mushroom rocks, giant labyrinths, and water catchments. Known as the Eden in the Sahara, the Reserve lies within the Ennedi Massif, a mountainous refuge declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016 for its unique natural formations and globally significant rock art. The extraordinary history of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic period is recorded through a multitude of preserved archaeological sites, consisting of engravings, rock paintings and mausoleums – testament to the historic role people have played in this landscape. Today, despite the harsh climate and environment, some 30,000 community members move through Ennedi every year, their survival depending on the resources the reserve provides.

Prior to African Parks assuming management of Ennedi in 2018 in partnership with the Government of Chad, the area had experienced excessive illegal hunting and unsustainable resource extraction. Despite these pressures, the flora and fauna that remain are extraordinary. The reserve is an important sanctuary for over 200 bird species, both permanent residents and transcontinental migrants, as well as iconic, desert-dwelling mammals such as Barbary sheep, dorcas gazelle, and striped hyaena. With the area now benefitting from effective protection, wildlife restoration projects are becoming a reality – red-necked ostrich were successfully reintroduced, and plans for other species introduction are underway. Economic opportunities are growing through the steady development of regulated tourism activities; and environmental education is reaching community members across the vast landscape with a unique mobile education truck.

In less than five years, through effective management, community engagement and infrastructure and tourism development, Ennedi is becoming a functioning Sahelian-Saharan ecosystem of significant cultural and natural value.

Ennedi Highlights

  • Increased wildlife monitoring has led to a deeper understanding of this important sanctuary; more than 60 species were identified in 2022.
  • Red-necked ostriches were successfully reintroduced to the Reserve in 2021, and have since raised a number of healthy chicks.
  • Ennedi is an ecological oasis home to remarkable biodiversity, including a relic population of West African (or desert) crocodile.
  • An archaeology inventory being undertaken has so far analysed over 300 sites out of a planned 500.
  • Shortly after being recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2016, Ennedi was classified as a Natural and Cultural Reserve.



Ennedi formally came under the long-term management of African Parks in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Chad in February 2018. Our shared long-term vision for Ennedi is to restore its natural and cultural assets, reintroducing species that lived here before, and to recreate a representation of the Sindian-Saharan and Sahelian biomes in Africa, which are no longer found anywhere else in the entire Sahel region.

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