ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK
Preparations for the wet season rolled out and the construction of additional facilities were completed at schools outside the park. Minimal rain in the northern section of the park turned large tracts into mud baths in which wildlife got stuck and died, notably buffalo.
The park team hosted two important delegations during the quarter. The first comprised a team of government officials who visited Zakouma to confirm the disputed park boundary as per the government decree of 1963. An additional 11 markers were also erected to doubly ensure the clear demarcation of the boundary. The second party was made up of EU experts and Chadian officials who met with park staff, regional officials, law enforcement agencies and local NGOs as part of the preparations for the 11th EU funding period to Chad.
Infrastructure development and repairs rolled out. They included a new airstrip near the core elephant area to assist with the resupplying of patrols, an initiative necessitated by the fact that herds have remained inside the park during the past two rainy seasons, rather than venture outside the park in the extended elephant range. Work began on the Goz Djarat road to repair the damage caused by last year's floods and rainproof hay sheds were built at the stables to store grass for the patrol horses.
Wildlife and Biodiversity
Zakouma's elephants split into several herds and remained within a limited area during April and May, but in June began extending their range. A sick elephant cow and her cow died and the absence of rain took a toll on the park's wildlife. The pans in the northern wetlands received little rain with the result that they became nothing more than mud pools in which animals got stuck. A total of 496 buffalo, four roan antelope, four hartebeest, one giraffe and three marabou storks died as a result of getting stuck in the mud.
A total of 43 long patrols and two short patrols were conducted during the quarter. There were zero poaching incidents however 35 fishermen were arrested for illegally fishing in the park and an array of nets and equipment confiscated. Four cattle herders and four men collecting Arabic Gum inside the park were also arrested. Five fishermen previously arrested for illegal fishing inside the park were each sentenced to six month's imprisonment.
Twenty-five rangers completed a special course in precision shooting and three trainers received advanced training certificates. Two horse patrols were dispatched to Ibir in the south-west of the park for the wet season and six motorbikes to Heban, north of the park in the extended elephant range area, also for use in the wet season.
Visits to the park remained a cornerstone of the Zakouma community engagement programme. A total of 44 outreach visits comprising more than 1,700 people (students, teachers, villagers and government officials) participated in trips to the park during April and May.
The two dormitory blocks at the school at Ibir were completed and work began on the kitchen complex to service them. The school supervisor's house in Goz Djarat was also finished.
A borehole and pump were funded and installed by Camp Nomade at the Kach-Kacha market to provide clean water for the villagers. Visits to the market have become popular outings for guests staying at Camp Nomade and at Tinga Lodge.
Revenue from Tinga Lodge totaled US$40,526 for April and May, at the end of which the lodge closed for the season while revenue from Camp Nomade for the month of April was US$13,500. Camp Nomade will reopen in December. Camp Salamat, the day visitor and camping complex available free of charge to Chadians, was patronised by 228 visitors during April and May.
Work began on a comprehensive tourist information guide for the park.