Central African Republic (CAR)
Key achievements during the quarter included the advancement of infrastructure initiatives and the recruitment and training of candidates to bolster the existing ranger complement. Ecology research was ongoing and re-affirmed Chinko's rich biodiversity while outside the project staff introduced an innovative teaching system in schools to compensate for the lack of teachers.
Accommodation was completed to house 60 rangers as was a medical clinic to support the needs of all park staff. In addition, the section of the park headquarters that will serve as the main office and the control room was finished. Improvements were carried out to a 60km stretch of road to Mbari, the park access road and 20km of new road was built to Ngoy - the center of Chinko which is the focus for anti-poaching efforts. All of Chinko's infrastructure initiatives have been implemented using materials produced at the onsite brick facility. Maintenance was carried out on the two ferries that will be used extensively by patrol units during the wet season to traverse all the major rivers in the area.
A simplified stock-keeping and ordering system was set up by the finance team to improve Chinko's supply chain and a suitable HR payroll system was also identified to improve efficiencies. The unstable Internet connectivity in the region however delayed the implementation of the latter system.
Wildlife and Biodiversity
Swiss biologist, Thierry Aebischer, spent three weeks surveying an identified chimpanzee area and concluded that there are between 200 and 300 chimpanzees living inside Chinko. This information has been submitted to the IUCN Primate Specialist Group for inclusion in their range and distribution updates.
In addition, Chinko is supporting and assisting with two important surveys. One is for Panthera, the specialist wild cat NGO, to establish the costs involved in protecting decreasing lion populations and the second is an Endangered Wildlife Trust bird survey to gather data and information on Chinko's bird species and their abundance.
Camera traps set up in the Ngoy area confirmed the presence of a herd of elephants in area.
A third selection and ranger training course began in May. Of the 950 candidates who applied, 102 were preselected and 36 candidates made the final cut for the eight week, basic field ranger training. They are scheduled to complete their training in July. The training is being implemented by two expert trainers following a comprehensive module put in place by African Parks' Group Law Enforcement Manager. In addition, a dedicated, permanent head of law enforcement joined the Chinko team.
The park team conducted an intelligence initiative interviewing more than 20 poachers and former poachers living in communities outside the area to enable them to identify the main protagonists, their modus operandi and the level of the poaching threats in the vicinity.
The lack of teachers is a major challenge for schools located outside Chinko. In order to address the issue, the Chinko team has devised a parent teacher system, using parents who are literate to teach reading and writing on a rotational basis. The system is to be implemented in September at the start of the new school year.
In another community initiative, the park team helped establish a weekly market in Bakouma, the main town outside the protected area, providing local farmers and traders with a facility at which to sell their produce and wares to community members and, at the same time, service the ration and supply needs of Chinko itself.
There was absence of tourism activity, the hunting season having closed at the end of March. The Chinko team did however initiate a feasibility study into the viability of specialist birding safaris.