Garamba is one of Africa’s oldest national parks, designated in 1938, and was declared a World Heritage site in 1980. Spanning 5,133 km2 and adjacent to the domaines de chasse which cover 9,663 km2, the park is both vast and an intact wild landscape. But this critically important landscape has had a tragic past. Once home to 22,000 elephants as recently as the 1970’s, as well as to the Northern white rhino, militarised poachers reduced the elephant population to fewer than 1,300 individuals, and the last white rhino was seen in the park in the early 2000’s.
Garamba is situated in one of the most hostile parts of Africa as it shares 261 km of its border with war-torn South Sudan. Militant ivory and bushmeat poachers, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, have systematically targeted the parks’ natural resources over the last few decades to fund their campaigns of terror and instability.
l park In order to prevent Garamba’s complete destruction, African Parks assumed management in 2005 in partnership with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN). The park represents one of African Parks’ greatest challenges, but through the complete overhaul of our law enforcement strategy in 2016 with critical support from the EU, the Wildcat Foundation, the World Bank and USAID, and with improved ranger training and the integration of new technology, we are finally gaining ground. For the first time in years, elephant poaching decreased by 50% in 2017; surveys are showing a significant reduction of illegal activity in the park and key wildlife populations including giraffe and hartebeest have either stabilized or are increasing.
In a region with little economic opportunity, Garamba employs almost 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.