by Donatella Malfitano
September 2, 2011
Page 1 : Zakouma National Park
The African nation of Chad [map] in north-central Africa is still paying the price of its years of instability, and is not (yet) a common tourist destination. Although Chad is far from a "democratic" nation, efforts in various sectors have been supporting a transition towards more stability and development. This would possibly allow travellers to visit and discover some of the country’s unique sites.
One of those places is Zakouma National Park and, since I have been working in Chad over the past few weeks, I was able to make a special trip there. Visiting Zakouma is an unforgettable experience for any traveller, wildlife lover or conservationist.
Located in the southeast of Chad, near its border with Central Africa Republic, the park was founded in 1963. It was the first national park to be created in that country.
Zakouma represents one of the last examples of a Sudan-Sahelian ecosystem that is still intact. At 300,000 hectares (about 750,000 acres), it forms the heart of a larger ecosystem of three million hectares. With its location in the Sahel area, and with the variety and richness of its fauna, Zakouma is a very special park that has no equal in central and west Africa.
|See a LightBox gallery of photos from Zakouma National Park!
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Zakouma National Park LightBox Gallery
To view the slideshow, simply double-click any image appearing in the thumbnail grid. To proceed through the slideshow, move your mouse over the upper-right hand corner of a photo; you will see a NEXT button appear. Click on that button to move forward in the slideshow. You'll find a PREV button by moving your mouse over the left side of a photo. Finally, to return to FieldTripEarth, simply close the new window or tab.
Compared to other more famous and familiar places in Africa, Zakouma still maintains a genuine and "untouched" essence that represents the fauna and flora richness of 50 years ago, and that makes any visitor feel lucky and blessed to have had the opportunity to know this place.
The political instability of the country—caused by clashes between rebels and governmental forces in 2008—and all the previous years of civil conflict have resulted in the park being neglected to such a degree that its very survival was at risk. It seems that the dedication of a mere dozen guards has been the sole reason that the disappearance of some species was prevented (except for that of the black rhino, which was already extinct by the 1950s).
A project supported by the European Union (EU) has helped restore and protect this incredible ecosystem, which hosts twelve "Endangered" or "Vulnerable" species listed in the Red List of endangered species. The EU’s work includes wildlife census and monitoring of the seasonal distribution of the fauna and its interaction with the environment.
Next Page : The Status of Zakouma
Pages: 1, 2, 3
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