Horses are an essential part of effective law enforcement and anti-poaching tactics at Zakouma National Park in the Republic of Chad. Since African Parks took over the management of the park in 2010, horse management has undergone significant improvements in terms of horse care, equipment training and guard horsemanship - and continues to do so. Stables, a riding arena, a lunging ring and two camps for the stallions when they are off-duty have also been set up.
The current (horse) stock improvement programme at Zakouma is focused on selling horses that prove to be unsuitable for anti-poaching patrols and purchasing larger, hardier horses. The West African Barb, a desert horse that originated from Morocco and Spain, is the primary breed found in Chad and is hardy and well-suited to the conditions. Zakouma currently has a stable of 40 horses which cost around US$50 000 a year to maintain.
Zakouma Park Manager Rian Labuschagne usually buys horses from nomads at a cost of between US$400 to US$500 each. In June however a magnificent former racehorse stallion called Horus was donated to the park by the Minister of Pastoral Development and Animal Production, Mr Amir Adoudou Artine. Horus has been used on scouting patrols but Labuschagne believes he can also be used during the dry season in the park periphery area to cover the nomads' mares in order to improve their stock. It is one form of assistance the park can offer these nomads who settle in the periphery for half the year.
Rainy season patrols
Horse patrols are particularly well-suited to Zakouma during the rainy season which stretches from May to October, covering the area with water. Horse patrols are dispatched in teams of at least five man/horse pairings for up to seven days at a time and they are in permanent contact with the radio room at Zakouma. The park also implements foot, motorbike and bicycle anti-poaching patrols. More....