By Christina Russo
In a week of wildlife conservation announcements coming out of New York, including CGI’s commitment to spend $80 million fighting elephant poaching, and the merge between Rare and The Nature Conservancy, the nonprofit organization African Parks (AP) added its news to the mix: African Parks is partnering with the government of Chad to launch the first national program to combat elephant poaching in central Africa.
This is no minor undertaking. The country of Chad has been absolutely ravaged by the illegal trade in ivory.
At an event this week at The River Club in Manhattan, hosted by African Parks, Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno said his country “has been struck more openly and severely by this new poaching wave than the other countries in the Sub region.”
According to AP, 50 years ago Chad was teeming with 50,000 elephants; today the number is down to 1,200.
And inside its Zakouma National Park, which National Geographic once referred to as “a refuge” for elephants, the loss is equally staggering. In 2005, Zakouma was a cradle for some 4,000 elephants; this year, the number stands at roughly 450.
African Parks was founded in 2003, and has a distinctive mission within the crowded galaxy of wildlife conservation groups.
Armed with its motto “A Business Approach to Conservation,” its goal—in partnership with governments—is to successfully and fully operate a country’s national park.
This means AP is in charge of everything: the park’s finances, its security, infrastructure, tourism components, roads, law enforcement.
AP also intends to supervise each park for no less than 20 years (“We are accountable” for our actions, says CEO Peter Fearnhead). More....