Garamba, one of Africa’s oldest national parks and a World Heritage Site, is the last stronghold for the largest population of elephants and the last remaining Kordofan giraffe in the DRC
Garamba National Park spans 5,133 km2, with 9,663 km2 of adjacent domaines de chasse, and is situated in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) bordering South Sudan. It is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, designated in 1938, and in 1980 was declared a World Heritage Site. But this critically important landscape has had a tragic past and is often referred to as ground zero in the elephant poaching wars in Africa.
Once home to 22,000 elephants as recently as the 1970s, militarised poachers reduced the population to fewer than 1,200 today; and the northern white rhinos were poached to local extinction in the early 2000s. These highly incentivised poachers made up of South Sudanese armed groups, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and others, continue to target the region’s remaining elephants for the sale of their ivory to fund their criminal activities, wreaking havoc on people and wildlife as they go.
To stop the park’s destruction and bring stability to the area, African Parks signed an agreement in 2005 to manage Garamba with the Institut pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). Since then the park has been one of our greatest challenges. But in 2016, we redefined Garamba’s history through the implementation of an extensive law enforcement strategy with support from critical donors. A heightened level of professionalism along with increased security measures was afforded to the Rangers, local staff and communities within the Garamba Complex. Since implementing this new strategy, surveys show a significant reduction of illegal activity in the park, elephant poaching has dropped by 90%, not one Ranger has been killed in action by armed poachers since 2017, and key wildlife populations, including Kordofan giraffe, have either stabilised or are increasing.
In a region with little economic opportunity, Garamba employs over 500 full-time local staff with 2,000 more on short-term contracts. Our growing ranger force provides security not only to wildlife but also to tens of thousands of people living around the park, slowly returning peace to this corner of the world again.
Our primary focus is to continue our intensive law enforcement efforts to counter the poaching threats the park faces on a constant basis, and to progress on the Sustainable Development initiative that will impact more than 100,000 people living around Garamba.
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