I recall reading several times probably in Nat Geo articles in which Mike Fay was warning about the Janjaweed and the danger they pose to both the elephants (and other wildlife) and people of Central Africa but his warnings went unheeded. We’ve seen the awful consequences across the region in Bouba Njida NP in Cameroon, in Dzangha Sangha NP in C.A.R, in Garamba NP in the D.R.C. and in Zakouma. I really hope that C.A.R. can be stabilised soon before it’s too late, we can only hope that when it is Manovo will be able to be restored.
Thank heavens for African Parks and their involvement with Zakouma and Chinko, looking at Google Earth as the crow flies the distance from the middle of Manovo to middle of Zakouma is around 165 miles and the distance to Chinko (though I don’t know where the boundaries of Chinko are) is around 270 miles. With the exception of the eastern giant eland which is absent from Zakouma all of the other big game species in Manovo at least the savannah species are found in Zakouma so at some point in the future if it becomes possible to do so the park could be restocked with animals brought from Zakouma to replace or reinforce populations in Manovo. In the past there would have been no barrier to animals moving between the two parks so genetically Zakouma’s animals should be a good match. If it is necessary to replace or reinforce the park’s population of giant eland then these animals could be brought in from Chinko once the population there has increased enough.
Often when I refer to species that aren’t that familiar to most people when I have no photos of my own because I haven’t seen the animal in question I like to provide a link to ARKive however when I’ve written about giant eland in the past I wasn’t able to, they didn’t have an entry for this species as they clearly hadn’t acquired the necessary photos. In the course of writing this I’ve discovered that they do now have an entry for these majestic animals, all of the photos are of the western giant eland and I presume were taken in the Fathala Reserve in Senegal a small reserve outside their original range in the country where they are breeding them. There are plenty of photos of eastern giants on the web but unfortunately they are almost entirely of dead ones shot by trophy hunters.
ARKive giant eland
Securing Manovo should be very important for the survival of this species, at the moment their conservation relies almost entirely on trophy hunters and I doubt there are that many of those going to C.A.R. currently. If some of the other big game species do need to be restocked from Zakouma then perhaps Chad could trade the animals for giant eland which could be introduced into Zakouma though they were apparently not previously found there but did occur just to the south in the Salamat Faunal Reserve.
If there are forest species that need restocking these could likely be obtained from Chinko as well. Chinko is a good bit further south than Manovo but both areas are in the transition zone between the Sudano-Sahelian Savannahs and the Congo Basin Rainforest though Manovo being that much further north obviously has rather less forest. Finding information on Manovo certainly up to date information on the web is really not easy, it is usually pretty clear how seriously out of date the information is because the wildlife listed as occurring in the park includes black rhinos which must have been extinct in C.A.R. since if not the late 80s then probably the early 90s. Most of what I’ve found on the web only names a few of the parks mammals and doesn’t give a full list of the larger species, so of the forest mammals that aren’t found in Zakouma I wasn’t exactly sure which of the species I suspect should be found in Manovo actually occurred in the park and which did not.
However I discovered while looking at some distribution maps on the IUCN website that if you click change base map and then select National Geographic when you zoom right in it shows the national parks. Distribution of course can never be 100% accurate or remain up to date but looking at a few maps I can see that red river hogs, giant forest hogs, lowland bongos, yellow-backed duikers, blue duikers and guereza colobus should all occur in the park, these are just the species that came to mind that I decided to look at there may be others I’ve overlooked. Here are three of the maps I looked at.
Red river hog
Giant forest hog
For anyone who isn’t familiar with where the park is if you zoom in on the north of the C.A.R. and find where it says Bamingui Bangoran when you zoom in further two parks will appear the western of the two is called Bamingui Bangoran and the eastern is Manovo Gounda St Floris. Curiously I don’t know for why but the park is divided into two separate sections there is narrow corridor of land a few miles wide separating the far south of the park off from the rest.
Having not found much information about the park on the web I can assume that the as well as the park’s elephants much of the other big game has probably also been decimated by meat poachers however I wouldn’t know how much of the habitat has been damaged or destroyed by people cutting trees or the illegal grazing of livestock. Looking at the example of what African Parks has achieved in Zakouma and what has also been done in Gorongosa in Mozambique I’m optimistic that if the country can be stabilised then the park could be restored. I really hope that if they continue to achieve good results in Chinko that African Parks will as @Gregor suggests take on Manovo if it becomes safe to do so and there's a proper government in Bangui that they can work with.
The one thing I did find online was a sad review of the park on tripadvisor from a couple who had worked very briefly as safari guides in the park during the good days when it was still a wildlife paradise.
One of the World Heritage websites I looked at suggests that if Manovo can be saved then it should become part of a transfrontier conservation area with Zakouma, quite what state the south of the Salamat Faunal Reserve near the border is in I’m not sure. With all of the chaos in the C.A.R. there may be a lot of refugees who’ve moved into this area of Chad I don’t know for a sure, if it is possible trying to re-establish a wildlife corridor linking the two parks would be a priority. Whether there will one day come a time when elephants are sufficiently safe that they can once again move between the two parks as they would have done in the past I don’t know.
Whatever happens to Manovo will ultimately depend on C.A.R. being stabilised if and when that will be achieved is anybody’s guess.