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Found 35 results

  1. This is the start of a report of a solo trip I made to Majete. The purpose was to learn about African Parks' past, present and intended future conservation plans for this, its first Reserve. I stayed at Thawale Lodge, originally built and run by AP, but now leased to Sunbird, a Malawi hotel group. While essentially staying as a tourist, I was also lucky enough to have been able to arrange meetings with several of the Reserve Management team which were invariably helpful, open and highly informative. Majete is a Reserve of 700 sq km in the southern part of Malawi some 2 hours by road to the south west of Blantyre. It is surrounded by a perimeter fence of 140 km length. Permanent water is available from a 10km stretch of the Shire River in the north eastern section and from some 12 artificial water holes (water from bore holes). Only the north eastern quarter of the Reserve (about 175 sq km) is developed for tourism. Of this, 75 sq km has access restricted to visitors at the Robin Pope Safaris' luxury lodge, situated in the extreme north east. Thawale Lodge is situated inside the Reserve, 3 km from the main gate. It has an adjacent water hole about 150 m from the Lodge verandah which is well visited during the dry season by many species of mammalian wildlife (I saw 11). Very close (about 15 m) to the verandah is a raised circular tank into which clean water flows. This overflows into a muddy ditch. Individuals or groups of many of the species using the water hole to bathe in move up to the clean water to drink. In addition, some drink from and bathe in the ditch as do a large selection of birds. Thus, the Lodge itself represents an excellent game viewing area as do the two outlying hides reached by vehicle and each overlooking their own waterholes. I spent most of my activity time on game drives and hide visits, but took two boat trips on the Shire River upstream of the hydroelectric dam. Two post sundowner night drives were undertaken. Walking trips were available, but it was hot and I disqualified myself on grounds of infirmity and old age. The Reserve was more or less bereft of mammalian wildlife when AP took control in 2003 because of very heavy meat poaching. It has now been re-stocked and is reaching or has just reached capacity for herbivores. Predator numbers are still lower than targeted (e.g. currently 11 lion against a target of 30). The area is unsuitable for agriculture. The ground is very undulating and stony. Along the river, there is very attractive riverine woodland which gives way to mixed and then to miombo as one moves south. There are well-maintained roads in the tourist zone and ,in addition, a couple, less used, that head south east and south west. It takes a one way drive of 2.5 h to reach the southern boundary from Thawale Lodge, but I only ever got halfway. My enjoyment of the trip was much enhanced by meeting up with other Safaritalkers for some of the time. @Bugs and his friend, Ted Newton, flew up from Joburg and arrived more or less simultaneously with my flight on Ethiopian from Addis. We were able to share a taxi to the Lodge, pre-arranged for us by Sunbird Thawale. @Bugs and Ted stayed for 6 days. @Soukous was also present when we arrived and we spent the whole of the following day with him, but he thereafter departed, but not before laying down a challenge which @Bugs found irresistable. @Soukous had just come from Zambia and, when he left, he had amassed a bird list of 122 from both countries. @Bugs was determined to beat this from Majete alone. With extremely able assistance from our excellent guide, Jimmy, and armed with Robert's Bird Ap(p? - I don't own a mobile phone, nor know whether aps have one or two ps), he managed to accumulate 134. This was an education for me - mainly enjoyable. Bohm's bee eaters and twinspots were very pretty and I was delighted when they were pointed out to me by the others, but I was somewhat underwhelmed, albeit relieved, when the long search for rock pratincoles was fulfilled. Of course, once they had found one, they popped up like London busses. Anyway, for serious birders (and I doubt you could get more serious than the lot I travelled with), I can state that we clocked 67 on day 1 and 100 by the end of day 2. In my second week, focusing on mammals and trees, Jimmy and I added 6 further bird species to reach a total of 140. My mammal list summed to 31species, with which I was happy, particularly as it included five firsts (suni, grysbok, tree squirrel, Lichtensten's hartebeest and, surprisingly, nyala - which were prolific in the Reserve. I will mention the weather because my visit fell within what is sometimes described as suicide month. I was somewhat dreading the expected high temperatures and humidity that typify the build up to the rainy season. I was lucky in that I dodged the worst of it and only had one day of 45 deg C. Most were below 40. The rains came slightly early and Jimmy demonstrated that his weather forecasting wasn't on a par with his many other attributes, having elected to put us in an open boat and take us way upstream just as a thunderstorm dropped about 12mm of rain on top of us - certainly cooling. The greening of herbage within 2-3 days of this first rain was dramatic. By the second week of the trip, many animals and most birds had stopped coming to the Lodge, though one of the water holes serviced with a hide continued to produce. I am not intending this to be a day to day account of the trip, but I will attempt to show potential visitors what they might expect to see on a stay of more typical duration than mine. I will, therefore, conclude this section of the report with photos of what I saw from the Thawale Lodge verandah. I would also like to refer readers to @Africlan's excellent Malawi trip report. His photography is infinitely superior to mine, but I would have to say that his description of the raised circular tank near the Lodge verandah as a birdbath was inaccurate. The only bird visiting on my trip was a pied crow! This is more or less the best I could do for the waterhole with my camera. It needed a longer lens to do it justice. (I was using a Nikon D3200 with 70-300 lens). @Africlan's visit was in June and there's much more green vegetation in his shots. I did have one dusk sighting of a serval at this waterhole. These 3 female nyala were much closer and drinking from the muddy ditch formed from the overflow from the circular tank as was the waterbuck (below). Nyala mother and calf at the circular tank (birdbath!) This waterbuck is wearing a very pale jacket. Jimmy explained this on its having been forced to exist on browse rather than the typical grazing diet, something of which I'm a bit sceptical. The strategy of emptying the tank to encourage inflow of even cleaner water from the tap failed on this occasion. The tap had been turned off. Much sucking at the point of inflow probably resulted in a stomach full of air and much subsequent belching. This nyala wasn't going to let a couple of buffalo stop it from drinking - well, only temporarily. The path to my tent (5), from which there was also a good waterhole view, often had a sentry on duty. We occasionally had company in the dining area, but the baboons were generally quite respectful and only raided when no people were present.
  2. It's done! African parks just signed an agreement with ANAC, to manage for a mandate of 25 years Bazaruto National Park in Coastal Mozambique. This is the first Marina protected area to be included in APN portfolio. The less I can say is that the landscapes is gorgeous!
  3. Great news from Chad, including rhino relocation- The Government of the Republic of Chad and African Parks announced on Tuesday October 10th the signing of an agreement for the management and protection of key reserves Siniaka Minia, Bahr-Salamat and wildlife corridors around Zakouma National Park, to create the Greater Zakouma Functional Ecosystem. African Parks, a conservation NGO which manages protected areas on behalf of governments across Africa, has managed Zakouma National Park since 2010. The results achieved in Zakouma enabled the extension of the mandate to manage a much larger landscape, securing vital habitats beyond the national park. Zakouma National Park is home to the country's largest population of elephants, which was reduced by 95% due to rampant poaching between 2002 and 2010. In the seven years since the Government of Chad delegated management to African Parks, law enforcement measures and community programmes have practically eliminated poaching and the elephant population is on the increase for the first time in a decade. "The Government of Chad has shown extraordinary vision in committing to the conservation of its irreplaceable parks," said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead. "Through our partnership in Zakouma, our actions have produced stability and security for both local communities and wildlife, paving the way to incorporate the Siniaka Minia and Bahr-Salamat Wildlife Reserves, and important corridors between them within our management mandate. We are immensely grateful for this partnership, and for the support of the European Union and other funding partners who have made this possible." The key priorities will be to reduce poaching and human-wildlife conflict through the improvement of law enforcement; to promote national capacity; and to contribute to socio-economic growth. On Sunday October 8th, the Governments of Chad and South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enable African Parks to translocate a founder population of black rhinoceros from South Africa to Zakouma for reintroduction to Chad next year. This commitment to fortifying security and eliminating poaching to facilitate the safe return of key species is a critical component of the restoration of Zakouma, and the larger ecosystem. "The satisfactory results that we have achieved in this public-private partnership stem from the foresight of His Excellency Mr. Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic, Head of State," said Chad's Minister of Environment and Fisheries Ahmat Mbodou, "The conservation and sustainable management of resources is in perfect coherence with Chad's 2030 vision and the objectives of sustainable development."
  4. Here is the last newsletter from African Parks. Interesting is to note that Liuwa current Manager Robert Reid will take the position of Field Operation Manager in Siniaka Minia, Chad. I have tried to find further information about this news, but I did not find anything about. APN's interest in Siniaka Minia was released in an article a couple of years ago, but no official communication from the Chadian authorities or from our preferred NGO was done until now on this matter. I hence understand that there is a new conservation project in the air in Chad, which is great and shows the strong commitment of this country for conservation of its wildlife and natural national heritage. There are some important advances in OROA in the Swahilian ecoregion, Ennedi was declared as a World Heritage in 2015 with a project with APN to manage this area as a natural and cultural reserve, Ounianga lakes few years before, Zakouma administration was given to APN in 2010.
  5. Since African Parks took the management of Pendjari National Park, Benin, on 30th of May 2017, I have been reading a lot about the vast and underknown WAP complex, a large wilderness complex shared between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. We are usually more used with Austral and Eastern Africa safari destinations than Central and West Africa national parks and we know nearly nothing concerning these West destinations. All started when @Paolo kindly sent me a French aerial survey of the park. I then understood why all my web resaerches in English were worthless. In these countries the oficial language is French so the big majority of the scientific papers and management documents of the WAP are all in French! Pendjari National Park is a protected area located in Northern benin, at the frontier with Burkina Faseo. It is 2750 km2 national park inside a larger ecosystem including hunting blocks declared by Unesco as 5000 km2 biosphere reserve in 1986. The vegetation kind covering the area is called the Sudanian Savanna, which lies between the Guinean savanna (to the South) and the sahalian savana (to hte North). The productivity of this dense savanna is less than in Eastern and Southern Africa, which reason why the density of wildlife do not reach the levels we can find in the famous national parks of East Africa. The park was named because of the Pendjari river which marks the boundary between Burkina and Benin, and delimits the Northern limit of the park. The Atakora range is located South to the park and offers impresive landscapes with high cliffs and typical Somba villages. The Mekrou is another perennial river West of the Park that delimits the frontier between Benin, Burkina and Niger further to the East. The Pendjari river belongs to the Volta basin while the Mekrou belongs to the Niger basin. Pendjari is one of the protected areas created in 1954 under the French Colonial Administration. With the independance of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, the area was divided in several smaller entities. This 30.000 km2 larger area is called WAP for W-Arly-Pendjari and even sometimes WAPOK if the Oti Keran protected areas of Togo are included. WAP is the most important protected area of West Africa along with Niokolo Koba (NK) in Senegal and Comoé in Ivory Coast. Contrary to these two last areas, the WAP complex is still in good shape. Niokolo Koba and Comoé large game populations have suffered a steep decline because of illegal poaching, livestock encroachment, poor management and lack of funds. Even if NK and Comoé are world heritage sites, they did not receive the same atention by international partners than the WAP complex, this explains why WAP has always received better funding to put in place adequate management to conserve the wilderness. Well, as said before, WAP is composed of several protected areas. In Benin, the Pendjari National Park along with the huge Pendjari Hunting reserve (sub-divided into Batia and Porga hunting blocks) and the smaller Konkombri Hunting Reserve, sometimes also called Atakora game reserve (if included Mekrou Hunting reserve, but belonging to the W Park). All these protected areas are protected as a Biosphere Reserve as sais before. Reference: To the Nort-East of the country, the W National Park is a 5000 km2 protected area located South to the Mekrou river. The Djona Hunting reserve and the Mekrou Hunting reserves respectively lie to the South and to the East of the park. In Niger, The W National Park Niger was declared in 1996 as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. It is named by the very special the shape of the Niger river delimiting the Western boundary of the park. Tamou Game Reserve is located North to the Tapoa river to the Northern limit of the Park. On the Eastern side of the Niger river was declared the Dosso Partial Reserve, where little wildlife still remains today. In Burkina Faso, there is a a very complex system of protected areas focusing on the Arly and the W National Parks. The Burkina W National Park , along with the Nigerien and the Benin parts, are supposedly managed as a single protected area, which was established as a 10.000 km2 Transboundary Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2002, and was the first of its kind in Africa at the time of its creation. References: The Arly block is divided into several hunting areas and game reserves with diferent categories of protection. The Arly National Park is not yet gazetted. It is composed of the Arly and Madjoari game reserves and is in fact managed as a national park. The most significant protected areas surrounding Arly are Singou, Pama and Konkoumbari game and hunting reserves. Pendjari National Park was proposed as an extension of the W Niger heritage site in 2006 which was rejected by the UNESCO. The three countries were invited to re-asses the proposal and to ensure continuity between W Niger and Pendjari and to considere buffer areas. Plans are now ongoing to declare the whole WAP complex as an extension of the existing W Niger heritage site in 2017. References: Arly a similar vegetation compared to Pendjari, but W receives less rains than the two former blocks (indeed the Northern end of Tamou Reserve is more likely considered as a Sahelian ecosystem with the typical tiger bushes). It seems that Pendjai-Arly did not suffer from the 70’s hard droughts impacting the region, which was not the case of W park. W Niger and Burkina now receives 100mm of rain less than during the 60’s. We now understand that not all the entities forming the WAP receive the same category of protection. Thus they do not all receive the same fundings and some areas have received more atention than others with the consequence of unequal conservation perforances throughout the block. There are two sperate, marked regimes in the region: a a rainy season followed by a long dry season. During the rainy season some grasslands are partially flooded along the Pendjari river, which appears to be the perfect habitat for Buffon kobs during the dry season. The rainy season also fills many ponds along the Pendjari that start to dry from October and at the climax very few ponds still remains with water. Some famous ponds are Bori, Bali, Marre sacrée… Wildlife concentrate around these last water points during the dry season. The Pendjari and the Mekrou rivers are perrenial, the other rivers dry up at the end of the dry season. The Unesco heritage site declaration of W Niger and the latter declaration of W Transboundary Biosphere reserve and Pendjari Biosphere Reserve helped these areas to receive important fundings from international donors in the last two decades. In W National Park, the first important project called ECOPAS was set up European Union from 2001 to 2008 to recover the park wildlife and to coordinate the three countries administration. The first fase of the project (2001-2005) had a budget of 9 million USD equillay shared by the three countries for a period of 5 years. During the project ECOPAS, the total park budget increased to 5,7 MUSD per year (560 MUSD/km2) according to the Action and Management Plan, and focused on administration, coordination, infrastructure construction and renovation (rangers posts, roads, water points) and law enforcement. Before the ECOPAS project, only W Niger had an important road network for tourism and law enforcement. ECOPAS main achievement was the creation of hundreds of new roads, especially in W Benin which had little infrastructure before the project. For this reason, only one fith of the project budget was allowed to law enforcement. In comparison, Pendjari Action and Management plan only considered a budget of 1 M USD per year (equivalent 225 USD/km2). ECOPAS ended in 2008 and the park suffered of lack of funds an manpower until the start of the WAP project in 2010. Some authors indicate that wildlife decreased until the beginning of PAPE project due to poaching (conclusion from transect foot surveys). PAPE project was launched in 2011 as the continuation of ECOPAS project, and ended in 2016 and extended to the whole WAP complex (including Arly and Pendjari blocks). PAPE main goal was to sustain in time the results of ECOPAS and to involve further the local comunities. The first fase budget was 21 MUSD for a period of 4 years and focused on coordination between the three countries, infrasctucture building, law enforcement and tourism facilities. Pendjari National Park also received significant help from international donors to support the park activities since the eighties. (projects PAPN 1985-1990 and PGRN until 1999). In 2001 was launched the PCGPN – Project thanks to German cooperation agencies (GTZ/KfW) and thanks to the French cooperation agency (AFD) in a lower proportion, followed by continuous project funded by the German cooperation (GiZ). The PAGAP project only extended to the W Benin and Pendjari parks at same time of the GiZ and PAPE projects. Arly has always received less attention, probably suffering from the lack of visibility. W and Pendjari also clearly benefites from their Biosphere Reserve status contrary to Arly. I will only name the projects PAGEM-PRONAGEM (18,5 USDM – 15 years) and PAUCOF (1,8 billions FCFA) . This last one extended from 2001-2004. As far as I understand, elephant poaching has never been controled to accepted levels. While Africa suffered from a huge elephant wave since 2010 aproximatively, WAP was not the exception. I understand that this is one of the reasons why the Benin government decided to give the management of Pendjari to a private partner (African Parks). Reference: Before African Parks management, the park was under CENAGREF administration. CENAGREF is the agency in charge of the management and administration of the Benin protected areas network. In order to reduce tensions with the local comunities, it has been decided to involve these comunities in the management of Pendjari. Some local villagers thus assist the park for law enforcement and wildlife monitoring. AVIGREF was created to sustain the park conservation, to promote the 28 villagers communities in the peripery, and to reduce human pressures on the park. If AVIGREF is responsible for the salaries of the personal in the park activities, it benefits from the revenues from the hunting industry in the Porga, Batia and Konkombri hunting blocks. Up to 30% of the hunting revenues directly go to AVIGREF. The Porga and Batia hunting areas include some limited extensive human activities at their periphery, but inside the Biosphere Reserve. They also receive the meet from the animal hunted by foreign hunters, they can cut grass in some areas of the park... Reference: I do not know what agreement did reached APN with AVIGREF and the government of Benin about it, but I know from APN newsletters that they will build a 170 km fence, which might include or exclude these areas. I know that AVIGREF have a very positive perception of African Parks. Reference:és/ I will go back later on the park revenues, needs and the park budget just before APN arrived. To be continued...
  6. Samuel Kamoto My name is Samuel C. Kamoto and I am the Extension and Environmental Education Coordinator for African Parks, Majete. I am responsible for community engagement in order to build a constituency for conservation for Majete Wildlife Reserve. My job responsibilities include but are not limited to: Increasing income of resource poor households through conservation related income generating activities. Promoting Environmental Education, raise general awareness and establish an in-depth understanding of opportunities which are created by sustainable management of natural resources outside and inside the reserve. Enhancing networking with other conservation groups and organizations undertaking extension and Environmental Education activities; Developing capacity of Education & Extension staff to enable better management, implementation and monitoring of the community Program. Mainstreaming cross cutting issues such as HIV, gender, human rights, climate change in the program in partnership with other NGOs. Contributing to raising literacy levels around Majete through the Majete scholarship program to orphans and vulnerable children. Mobilizing financial resources for Community Engagement program especially on IGAs. African Parks is a non-profit organisation that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of National Parks, in partnership with governments and local communities. By adopting a business approach to conservation, supported by donor funding, African Parks aim to make each park sustainable in the long-term, thereby contributing to economic development and poverty alleviation. We currently manage seven parks in six countries - Malawi, Chad, Congo, DRC, Rwanda and Zambia - with a combined area of 4.1 million hectares. To find out more about Majete, visit the relevant African Parks website here - --------------------------- What is the name of your village/local community and what is your role within it? My name is Samuel Kamoto, from Majete Mathithi Camp which is the Park headquarters. My Role: I am the Community Extension and Education Coordinator, (prior to joining AP, I worked with the department of National Parks and Wildlife for 20 years in park management and Education positions. Worked in Majete while based at Lengwe National park in the early 1980s.) How are you personally involved with African Parks? I coordinate Extension and Education activities. Working with 19 Community based organisation, (CBO), purposely established around the reserve to act as conduits for information exchange between the park and communities who are our prime stakeholders in the management of the Park. CBOs are also a channnel through which we implement various interventions to respond a number of issues such as poverty, illiteracy, health etc. Historically, what did the Majete region mean to local communities? The Majete area was historically used for agriculture, fishing and hunting. It was also a source of building materials. Although the soils of Majete Game Reserve are very shallow and stony and appear unsuitable for cultivation and settlement, fragments of pottery are found all over the reserve. It is possible that in the past the soils were better, and the area was heavily settled. As a result of poor agricultural practices the soils became poor and the people moved away and abandoned the area. Hence, as wildlife was exterminated and pushed from other parts of the lower Shire valley by increasing human population, the Majete area acted as a reserve for many species. In particular the elephant, once common throughout the Shire Valley and giving the name “Elephant Marsh”, was then confined in the Majete area. It was to protect this remnant elephant population that the Nyasaland Fauna Preservation Society, (now Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi), pushed for Majete’s protection. Largely as a result of this pressure the area around Majete Hill was declared a non hunting area in 1951 and later in 1955, a 500 Km2 Game Reserve was proclaimed. Unfortunately this reserve took no account of the need for dry season water and so in 1969 the reserve was extended to 700 Km2 to include the perennial Mkulumadzi River, Shire River and the historical Kapichira Falls. Prior to the African Parks organisation's involvement, how did the local communities benefit from Majete as a resource? I.e., collection of wood for fires, use of wildlife as a protein source etc? Communities were collecting wood and thatch grass, hunting, logging, making charcoal and fishing though this was done illegally because Majete was still a reserve governed by the National Parks and Wildlife Act, despite it being poorly managed. It was this poor management and laxity in law enforcement that the local people took advantage of and they engaged in various illegal activities as mentioned above. Growing up within the Majete area, how do you remember Majete from the past and what stories can you recall your parents/grandparents telling you about it? Can you share some of their memories, for example what wildlife they remember, what it used to be like hunting for food etc? I remember Majete as a mass of rough, stony hills with poor Brachystegia, (Miombo), woodland with a number of small streams which were drying up in rainless months. The animals were obtaining their water requirements from a stretch of the Shire River which formed the north eastern boundary of Majete and also from a stretch of the Wankulumadzi River, (now known as Mkulumadzi). Water was also held in the “Miwawa’ waterhole in the Phwazi stream. Majete was then regarded as a very difficult place to be developed as a tourist attraction because of its rugged nature but was nevertheless a sanctuary worth preserving for a number of reasons: being large enough to contain elephants and rhinoceros. The reserve was regarded as utterly useless for either agriculture or forestry. I learnt from the elders that Majete was a home of then rare Nyasa Klipspringer, (Oreotragus aceratos), which was found nowhere in Malawi but Majete. Other species which I remember seeing during my visits to Majete in the early 1980s were elephant, eland, kudu, water buck, zebra, warthog, bush pig, lion, leopard and hippopotamus. I also heard stories of wild dogs being found in the area. How did African Parks first approach local communities surrounding Majete and what were your initial thoughts about a foreign organisation coming into the area? Setting up collaborative management structures, (sharing accountability and decision making), was the first step together with sensitization meeting about the new management and what it intended to do to rehabilitate the park as well as its plans for building support and trust from the local communities. The structures were as follows: 19 CBOs established around Majete Wildlife Reserve as conduits for community engagement. All CBOs have boards and report to the boards. Majete Wildlife Reserve Association is an umbrella body for the CBOs. Reports to Joint Liaison committee. Meets quarterly. Aimed at sharing experiences, knowledge and challenges and receive reports from African Parks Majete, (APM). Joint Liaison Committee, (JLC), a multi-stakeholder technical committee plays an advisory role to APM and assists with conflict resolution and management affecting communities. Meets quarterly. Annual stakeholders meeting - attended by technocrats, tour operators and journalists. (APM makes a presentation of achievements and issues and seek inputs from stakeholders.) The initial thoughts were that government had sold the reserve to foreigners to promote tourism for the benefit of government and its partners and not for the benefit of the local people. From the beginning,how have local communities been integrated into the conservation decision making process and management of Majete? Through the structures mentioned above which are functioning very well to date, When Majete was first fenced, how were local communities affected? How quickly was the decision to fence and protect, what traditionally had been "your" area, accepted by local people and how much opposition was there initially? The local communites knew very well that they were utilising the park illegally. They knew pretty well that they were taking advantage of a weak managment and therefore there wasn't much resistance. Those affected were the ones who were involved in illegal activities in the park. What compensation was offered and by who? No compensation was made. And now, how important is it that Majete is fenced, both for surrounding communities and the wildlife and ecosystem within? For the communities: no more crop raiding. For the park , the fence protects the animals from straying out of the park and cuts the risk of being killed by local communities. The fence also helps in ensuring that poachers find it difficult to enter and get out the park illegally. Yes, they can get into the park because some of the people who were involved in construction know well how the fence functions. For management again we have created a barrier that stops animals from free ranging and therefore Majete is not 100% pristine and hence the need for active managment. How apprehensive were your communities when large animal species were reintroduced to the reserve? In the past, had such animals been a danger to local people, (whether to lives, farming, livelyhood etc.) through human vs. wildlife conflict? And what was done to reassure local people that such incidents what not occur in future? Yes people were apprehensive. The fear of having elephants raiding crops, lions and leopard attacking livestock and eating people was expressed time and again during awareness meetings that were being held prior to reintroductions. Intensive awaress meetings were organised prior to all reintroductions to dispel the fears. People were also made aware of the effectivenss of the predator proof electric fence. With time people believed in the plan because when and if there has been isolated animal break aways they have been dealt with professionally before any loss is incured. What changes have you witnessed to both the reserve itself and surrounding areas since African Parks involvement? Vegetation cover has improved greatly in general. There has been regeneration of some wooded tree species. However, with the increase in numbers of elephants, we have also witnessed their impact - particularly to riverine vegetation with species like Umbrella Acacia, (Acacia tortilis), and Baobab, (Adansonia digitata), being affected most. Animals that once lived in Majete but were poached to extinction have been re introduced. Majete is now a home to lions, elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo etc. Majete is now one of the leading tourism destinations in Malawi and stands as an excellent example of how biodiversity conservation can go hand-in-hand with rural community development. In the surrounding communites: Communites are more cooperative. No more antagonism, no more booing of scouts as they interact and walk in the surrouding villages. There are a number of sustainable community development projects being championed by communities themselves with AP just providing guidance or in some cases working capital. What benefits do communities now derive from Majete and how are such benefits, whether financial or otherwise, equally distributed? About 140,000 people live around Majete, (in roughly a 5 km band around the reserve), and it is vital that this local community derives real and tangible benefits from the Reserve in order to ensure its long term survival. Sustainable resource harvesting, (e.g. harvesting of thatching grass and reeds), is permitted within the Reserve, whilst micro-enterprises such as bee-keeping, vegetable growing, arts and craft making have been initiated in conjunction with community members - setting them on a promising road to rural development. A community-managed campsite near the entrance gate provides a regular and sustainable source of income for the community projects. AP has always placed emphasis on educational activities and programs within the areas surrounding its parks. This includes providing financial support for secondary school and tertiary students through the Majete Scholarship Fund and Environmental Education outreach programs during which pupils learn about conservation issues, their impacts and solutions to the issues. 100 students in various secondary schools are being support by the Majete Bursary. Majete is also currently paying fees for 3 university students. Selection of students for the bursary is done with the community leaders. Only orphaned and vulnerable children are selected. One of the most important benefits to local communities is employment, especially considering that each economically active person supports an average of eight people. Employment has risen ten-fold at Majete since AP took over management, from just 12 people in 2003 to over 120 permanent employees today, with many more employed on a temporary basis and in a range of support businesses. How are African Parks investing in the younger generation from local communities? What is being done regards their education, training, taking them into the reserve and sensitising them to its wildlife and ecosystems etc? Providing scholarships as mentioned above. Environmental Education – working with 35 schools around the park which include park visits and outreach programs.Students being taught how to identify environmental issues and risks, their impacts and how to respond to the issues and risks. How are your communities involved in tourism management decisions? The communites own a community campsite and participate fully in its management. AP provides oversight. All revenue generated goes to communites. There is a community visit as one of tourist activities. Visitors pay to be taken on community visits and revenue generated goes to the communities. The communities are responsible for organising the activities which include traditional dances, display of traditional houses, foods, matmaking etc. How many people from surrounding districts are directly employed in Majete? (Whether it be tourism services, security, rangers, administration etc and what positions do they hold? Already mentioned in point 13 above. How do you share your culture with international tourists? Through organised community visits as mentioned in point 15 above. What are your hopes for the future, not only for the Majete Reserve but your communities which surround it? For Majete my hope is that the reserve will maintain what it has achieved. For the communities, my hope is that they will continue to be cooperative and continue reaping the benefits resulting from professional management of Majete. The future for communities is bright. Matt's note: I recently interviewed Michael Eustace of African Parks including a number of questions about Majete Wildlife Reserve here. All photos courtesy and copyright Samuel Kamoto/African Parks. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  7. In just two weeks time East African black rhinos will return to Rwanda. Back in 1961 and 62 a number of East African black rhinos Diceros bicornis michaeli were captured in the Tsavo region of Kenya and taken to Addo Elephant NP in the Eastern Cape. Rhinos at this time were entirely extinct in the Cape, having ideal habitat it was hoped that Addo would provide a secure home for the rhinos, and that they would form an insurance population given the increasing level of poaching in East Africa. In 1977 three bulls of the south central subspecies D. b. minor were unfortunately moved to the park from Zululand, In 1980 the IUCN/SSC African Rhino Specialist Group sent a request that these bulls and any hybrid calves they might have produced be removed to preserve the genetic integrity of the michaeli rhinos. The rhinos thrived in Addo until SANParks decided they wanted to replace these rhinos with so called Cape black rhinos D. b. bicornis it had been thought that this subspecies was extinct, but it was recently determined that black rhinos in Namibia in fact belong to this subspecies. The East African blacks were removed from Addo, while some were sent up to Tanzania to the Ngorongoro Crater to inject some new blood into the existing population and some to the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary, the rest went to a ranch called Thaba Tholo in Limpopo Province; from there some have since been sent to the Serengeti. 20 of these East African black rhinos at Thaba Tholo have now been captured and will soon begin the long journey from South Africa up to Rwanda to found a new population in Akagera National Park. The original black rhinos found in Rwanda were presumably hunted to extinction in colonial times, but remarkably in 1958 the first ever rhino translocation in Africa was carried out, re-establishing black rhinos in Akagera NP, the rhinos thrived in their new home. Even more remarkable than the fact that rhinos were reintroduced in 1958, is the fact that the very last of their descendants survived until 2007, somehow despite Rwanda’s civil war and the loss of half of the park, a few rhinos managed to survive. Unfortunately not quite long enough and the last of the rhinos died just three years before African Parks officially came in in 2010 to manage Akagera. African Parks, The Akagera Management Company and the Rwanda Development Board are now returning these animals to the park once more, the rhinos are due to arrive in Akagera on the 16th of May. These animals should thrive just as their predecessors did and form a new and important population of D. b. michaeli rhinos back in East Africa, and I hope in the future provide a source of rhinos for further reintroductions elsewhere, perhaps someday into Uganda where black rhinos are extinct. Following the successful reintroduction of lions in 2015 Akagera will soon be a 'big five' park once more which should be very good news for tourism to the park. " I was extremely pleased when I first heard that African Parks would be taking on Akagera NP having been privileged to visit in 86 and I have been waiting some years to hear this news, it's fantastic to know that it is finally happening. You can follow the story at Rhinos Return to Rwanda
  8. After 20 years, Cheetah have been reintroduced to Malawi. Just in time for our visit, 7 days & 8hrs until we leave for Malawi
  9. ~ This 2 June, 2017 article from Reuters explains the steps being taken by Benin to rehabilitate the W-Arli-Pendjari complex, described as the region's largest remaining expanse of savannah. Partnered with African Parks, a 10-year project includes placing security measures, preparing for ecotourism, and protecting existing habitat.
  10. Here is the NGO 2016 anual report: There are huge efforts to reintroduce species and recover landscapes in difference parks. - Zakouma: elephant population has reached 500 animals. - Chinko: APN is securing a core area where wild dogs, lions, elephants and lord derby elands are to be found. - Garamba: Since Junce the NGO has successfully stabilized the situation after a loss of 3 rangers and 100 known elephants carcasses. - Akagera: Lions population has doubled in less than two years after the big cat reintroduction. - Odzala: Efforts are pursued to control the bushmeat crisis in the Central Africa wilderness. - Liwonde/Majete/Nkhotakota: Big game species and elephants translocation to Nkhotakota project phase 1 was a major success. - Liuwa: Large predators continue to recover in this park holding the second largest wildebeest migration in the world. - Banweuleu: Plans are underway to reintroduce game species. Plans are underway at Ennedi (Chad), Pendjari (Benin), Bazaruto (Mozambique), Buffalo Springs and Shaba (Kenya) to ad new adquisitations to the portfolio. The Ethiopian authorities blocked the NGO bank accounts and plans are compromised at Gambella.
  11. I let you the March-April 2017 APN Monthly report: Here is Peter Fearnhead's letter:
  12. Akagera National Park under APN management, will soon receive a pride of 7 lions. Lions were extirpated in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994, it is now time to recover the amazing biodiversity of the Akagera. Lions were donated by South African protected areas (Phinda and Tembe). 5 adult and sub-adult females and 2 sub-adult males will travel on the 30th of June and then released after a 26 hours to trip to a bona in the North of the park. Here is the oficial press release from the NGO: APN is also working on reintroducing black rhinos in the Akagera.
  13. Zakouma 2015 Returning to Wildest Africa in Style A quick note before starting, when writing reports I always like to go the extra mile for the more remote off the beaten track destinations that I love, because although I would hate to see these places spoilt they do really need just a few more tourists to help ensure their survival. So I'm very glad that we wrote last year's report the way that we did however putting it together did require considerable effort such that prior to this trip both Paolo and I agreed that we would not do another joint report in the same vein as last year's. So I have decided to shoulder the burden of putting a report here on ST, this report will therefore be a largely solo effort though I'm sure Paolo will still contribute whenever he sees fit. When thinking about how I would put together this report I decided that for the main part of the report Part Two that will eventually follow I did not want to write the further adventures of Paolo and Inyathi/Rob in Chad that I would instead try to keep it much simpler and just concentrate on the photos and videos. I thought that just posting a few photos and videos would cut down my workload considerably and indeed it would if only I really could limit myself to just a few but in my case despite my best intentions just a few nearly always turns out to be rather a lot. So this report may turn out to require almost as much effort as last year's but I want to do justice to the majesty of Zakouma and it was always my intention to upload a sizeable selection of my photos and videos to the internet regardless of this report. All photos and videos were taken by myself using a Canon EOS 50D & an EOS 70D and a 15-85mm and 100-400mm MK II. Part One Last year’s trip report was called Zakouma: One Week in Wildest Africa but when I uploaded the photos to Flickr I chose to call the album Unknown Africa – Zakouma NP in Chad, even for me going to the park on that trip was a journey into the unknown. It is incredible to find somewhere that supports such a truly staggering abundance of wildlife and yet remains almost unknown to the outside world. That Zakouma is so little known is really down to the fact that it is in Chad and that in itself is remarkable it is hard to believe that such abundance could still exist in a formerly troubled and war torn country like Chad. What also makes Zakouma very special is to have such a wealth of wildlife in what is still a very wild, very undeveloped and basically unspoilt wilderness this is a rare combination these days. There are large areas in the park like Rigueik that are perfect for game viewing and yet there are almost no tourists at all throughout the entire season of around three months when the area is accessible; anywhere else you would expect to find at least half a dozen tourist camps and have to share some of your sightings with at least one or two other cars but not in Zakouma. You can also still find other places that have the same sense of real wilderness that Zakouma has but not the wildlife spectacle to go with it. If you go right off the beaten track outside the main tourist areas in some of the big Tanzanian parks like Ruaha and Katavi you can still find unspoilt wilderness devoid of tourists but inevitably there’s a trade off. These more remote areas generally haven’t already been opened up for tourism for a reason, to enjoy a true wilderness experience in parks like these you have to sacrifice the great game viewing on offer in their “core” tourist areas. Of course you can with luck still enjoy some quality wildlife encounters but you do have to work hard to find the animals. Either animal densities are naturally low because of the nature of the habitat which may be predominantly miombo woodland (not a good habitat for game viewing) or simply these more remote areas are not as well patrolled by park rangers allowing the animals to fall victim to meat poachers. In the days some fifteen years ago when Katavi NP was still very little known and there was only one very small seasonal camp at Lake Chada it was common to hear gunshots at night and to still find meat drying racks out in the bush. Not so in Zakouma remarkably the wildlife seems to be just as abundant throughout including in the more remote and least explored (even by the Park’s management) corners where you might imagine there would be fewer animals and this is a testament to just how well protected Zakouma is. In the previous report I did address the obvious concern about security and whether or not Chad and Zakouma is a safe place to visit, having visited before I had no concerns this time at all. So all I will really say this time is that the extraordinary abundance of large game ‘meat on the hoof’ seemingly throughout Zakouma is a very good sign of just how safe the park is. In general the remote African bush is a very safe place to be and the fact that the wildlife including the elephants is safe means that you really have very little to worry about security wise in Zakouma. Our first safari to Zakouma in late April last year was a chance for @@Michael Lorentz to go on a second recce trip to the park but it was also a recce for Paolo who was already planning a proper safari to Zakouma this year accompanied by Anita. That trip despite nearly being derailed by early rain had been a huge success, so much so that once I was back home I knew I had to return to see more of this fabulous park but also much as I might want to selfishly keep it to myself I knew that other people needed to come and see it and in doing so help pay for its protection. So I wanted us to write a report that would help if only in a small way to make Zakouma a little bit less unknown and if possible help it take its rightful place on the safari map of Africa. Of course we didn’t want to as it were shoot ourselves in the foot and find that we couldn’t return when we wanted to because everything was booked up by people who’d read our report. Whatever our small contribution the fact that Zakouma is now starting to appear on the tourist map is really down to Michael’s hard work and we knew from him and from African Parks that things would really start to happen this year and if we wanted to be part of it and to be amongst the very first tourists to visit Zakouma in proper safari style then we had to put our names down straight away. So when Paolo asked me if I’d be able to join him on this safari I didn’t hesitate for too long before deciding as I had last year that I would be crazy to say no. In January of this year African Parks set up a mobile camping operation in Zakouma called Camp Nomade and we would have the privilege to be amongst the very first guests to stay in the new camp. Ahead of us African Parks would be hosting some groups consisting of travel journalists (like Financial Times’s Sophy Roberts), and selected people from the safari industry, especially some of Africa’s top professional guides it is hoped that they will return with some of their clients and this will then help to fund the protection and management of this of this special and vitally important wildlife paradise. Camp Nomade will be exclusively marketed and sold through these accredited guides (or the companies they work for) but it is worth noting since staying at the camp will not be cheap that all of the money paid to Camp Nomade goes straight back in to the park. A tourism model that is probably unique within the safari industry. After our pioneering trip last year we had hoped to be the first ever tourists to stay at Camp Nomade but in fact it turned out that Colin Bell and Ralph Bousfield both participants on the guide’s recce trips immediately returned with clients. So we had to settle for being the third group of tourists, the third amongst what I hope will become a small but steady stream of tourist groups to visit Camp Nomade in future seasons. The last of these three guide groups would still be in residence on the night of the 31st of March the day that we planned to arrive in Chad so it was agreed that we should stay the night in N’Djamena before flying to the park on the 1st of April. Spending a single night in NDJ before transferring to the park will be the norm for future tourist groups visiting Zakouma.
  14. This is APN 2015 anual report:
  15. Hello all Following on some recent discussion about travel opportunities in Zakouma National Park, Chad I have pleasure in outlining two invitational safaris that my company will be running to Zakouma next year. If anyone is interested in booking a space on either safari, please contact me on my email: Spaces will be reserved on a fist come basis and I want to highlight that these invitationals are not limited to Safaritalk members, but will be offered to a broader audience. Some spaces have already been reserved. The description of the safaris can be found on these 2 links: INVITATIONAL ONE <> INVITATIONAL TWO <> And then for costs and further info please see the attached pdf: Invitational Safaris to Chad - MarchApril 2016.pdf Each safari will have 2 guides, so therefore 2 vehicles, which will mean no more than 4 guests per vehicle, allowing for excellent photographic opportunities. I hope this will be of interest to some of you and look forward to hearing from you. Zakouma is an extraordinary destination!! Michael Lorentz
  16. Here is the last report from APN. As far as I know, there was no release for March. Great news for Zakouma where the last census/Survey concluded to an increase of large game species, with more than 80 elephants calves seen since 2014. The NGO is about to share the results of Liuwa census in the following weeks. Lion cubs seen in Akagera. Wild dogs, lions and large giant eland herds spotted at Chinko. At Garamba, the situation is bleak, but APN is trying to raise further funds to reinforce staffing, and develop new tactics, to halt elephant poaching which is on the increase.
  18. I find this survey report led by SCF supported by African Parks (APN), in the Manga region of Chad. Located North to Lake Chad, close to the frontier with Niger, it is one of the last stronghold for dama gazelle.
  19. The last news and developments in the parks managed by APN.
  20. A great new for conservation, something I was expecting. African Parks decided to take over Chinkou project management. Chinkou is a huge area of CAR within a 70.000 km2 without any villages. African Parks willl control 17.000 km2 currently managed for trophy hunting. Let's hope African Parks will soon take over other huge areas in Central and Western Africa. I know they were involved in Gambela survey with other NGOs in Ethiopia. Any information is welcomed.
  21. This has come up before in the Zakouma articles thread but I thought I would add a new thread for anyone in the UK who may have missed it. On the 14th of Sept between 19:00 and 21:00 at the Royal Geographic Society in London (1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR) Le Directeur of Zakouma National Park Rian Labuschagne will be giving a lecture discussing the success story of elephant conservation in Zakouma National Park in Chad and the future for conservation. The event has been organised by Steppes Travel if anyone is interested in going you can purchase tickets from their website, the tickets are £15 (or £10 if you’re an RGS member) and all proceeds go to African Parks. Despite knowing about this for a little while I’ve only just bought my ticket so there no doubt still tickets available for anyone else who is interested in attending. Is anyone else going?
  22. This article from Standard Digital Media in Nairobi tells of the negotiations between Isiolo County officials and Africa Parks concerning the proposed 99-year lease of Buffalo Springs, Shaba and Bisanadi. Several local Isiolo land NGOs have stated their opposition to the proposed arrangement, as they feel that the public hasn't been adequately informed or consulted about the leasing of Kenyan land to non-Kenyans.
  23. This article from the Maravi Post in Lilongwe tells of the announcement that African Parks has agreed to manage Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi. Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi is currently managed by African Parks with a steady increase in levels of wildlife tourism.
  24. As many might have read on Facebook or other social forums, a tragic incident happened in Garamba National Park, in north-eastern DRC - an incredibly important protected area under constant siege from poachers coming from Sudan , militias like LRA and bandits on payroll of criminal syndicates. Three rangers were killed whilst on anti-poaching duty, not the first incident of this kind in Garamba. Here is the press release from African Parks that, in spite of all difficulties, is doing a great job in trying and protecting the park: I have been in contact with Jean Labuschagne, Special Project Manager of Garamba NP - if anybody wants to donate something to support the familes of those rangers killed whilst performing their daily, but nonetheless less admirable, activity to protect the wildlife we all love so much, there is the possibility of doing so both online and by bank transfer. I attach below the relevant instructions Online Donation: Online donations can be made at Please use "Ranger Jean-Marie " as the reference under Special Instructions when completing the donation. Cash transfer information: Bank Name: Chase Account number: 157992350 Routing number: 021000021 African Parks Foundation of America EIN number: 30-0241904 Reference to be used: “Ranger Jean-Marie”
  25. For those interested, and to complement @@inyathi,s ongoing brilliant trip reports, here are some galleries with photos taken by @@Anita during our trip: - Aerials - Antelopes (for @@Safaridude ) -Kordofan Giraffe - Buffalos, elephants and lions A few more galleries covering Zakouma's amazing birdlife, smaller mammals, night drives and Camp Nomade itself will be posted when time allows.

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