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 9,662 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 in 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. During three decades from the 1980s to 2000s, Garamba was overrun with rebel forces and heavily militarised poachers, leaving human and environmental devastation in their wake.
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). The park became one of our greatest challenges. In 2016, we significantly overhauled our law enforcement approach and since 2017 not one ranger has been killed on patrol and elephant poaching has dropped to near zero. Tens of thousands of people living around the park have benefitted from the safety and stability the park has provided and, in addition, are supported through the provision of schools, healthcare, and investments in sustainable development and enterprise.
In a region with little economic opportunity, Garamba employs over 500 full-time local staff. Our growing ranger force provides security not only to wildlife but also to tens of thousands of people living around the park.
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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