Project: Bravo Species: Elephant Client: African Parks Network (APN) Park: Garamba National Park Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
ESPA has an ongoing commitment to provide APN with wildlife ranger training in one of the oldest and largest parks in Africa, the Garamba National Park. The results, after completion of first year of deployment, have so far been excellent, with an improved ranger force and a significant reduction in the numbers of elephant poaching and rangers killed in action. The progress made has been a major step towards APN’s long-term goals and has helped highlight areas in which future improvements can be made.
Garamba is home to two continentally important species: the Garamba elephants (believed to be a hybrid of savannah and forest elephants) and the Kordofan giraffe sub-species, which are on the brink of extinction in DRC. DRC is one of the poorest countries on the planet, with a GDP per capita at about $456 in 2015, according to the World Bank. This makes poaching bush meat an attractive risk to both local and migratory poachers. A single giraffe can produce up to 660 pounds of meat. Poachers can then sell the bush meat for as much as $35 per pound to surrounding villages. That kind of lucrative return is very attractive to the migratory pastoralists who enter the park, using their vocation as a cover for wildlife killing.
The park is subject to many pressures, but especially militarized high-level ivory poachers from various rebel groups. Armed incursions are a regular occurrence, and a constant concern to the park’s staff and indigenous population. Thankfully, and since APN’s involvement, the biodiversity of the park has shown an improvement, though the poaching threat is rated as severe and the Garamba’s precious Northern white rhino recently became extinct due to poaching.
There is a clear improvement to the Park’s ranger force through ESPA training provision and implementation of APN policies. As well as increasing overall ranger numbers through recruitment and basic training, further training designed to up-skill the Park’s staff through the selection and training of advanced rangers, and refresher training of existing rangers was implemented. Specialist training was also provided including: advanced medical, team leadership and intelligence. Patrol mentoring was also carried out on active patrols.
Increased patrolling, improved intelligence-led operations, and the adoption of an Operational Readiness Mechanism, developed with the park’s very adept and dedicated general manager earlier this year, combined with specialized ESPA training, has made Garamba National Park a much safer haven for elephants. Funding support by WILDCAT Foundation US.
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