Chad wildlife safari, Zakouma national park

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2018: 11 Feb
2019: 10 Feb
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Chad wildlife safari, Zakouma national park

Environment

Zakouma National Park is an African success story - since 2010, new management here has reversed the trend in poaching which was affecting its elephants as well as other wildlife, and it is now one of the few places in Africa to see large herds of elephants. Far off the beaten track, Zakouma doesn't receive much in the way of tourism but our visits here are critically important in channelling much needed revenues to the park and enabling the excellent work of African Parks to continue.

The park holds 50% of the world population of Kordofan giraffes as well as large populations of buffalo, roan, and good populations of carnivores. Tourism to parks such as these, which brings revenue into the region, helps to demonstrate to local people that wildlife has a value beyond being a source of food, and is vital in changing attitudes and helping to engage the local population in the fight against poaching.

Getting to and from Zakouma means that we need to camp en route, in bush areas - we are very careful about leaving these in the condition that we have found them and all rubbish is taken back to N'Djamena where it can be more properly disposed of.

Community

Although this trip has a strong wildlife focus, where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.

We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the communities that we travel through to and from Zakouma. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.

We buy supplies from the local communities where this is feasible – usually meat and other foodstuffs, and try to have a positive economic impact upon the communities we visit.

We work with Chadian drivers and guides, and at the end of each tour encourage our travellers to leave unwanted clothes that they can then distribute to their extended families. We do not encourage travellers to leave these in the villages as we feel it is important that they are able to maintain their traditional lifestyles, which have generally served them well throughout the centuries in often difficult environments. We do not feel that the emulation of western culture, of which western clothing is just the start, would be wholly beneficial for people in some of the more remote communities.

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