African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. We currently manage ten parks in seven countries: Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – covering an expansive six million hectares.

Founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding, African Parks utilises a clear, business approach to conserving Africa’s wildlife and remaining wild areas. While securing vast landscapes and carrying out all activities needed to protect the parks and their wildlife, we maintain a strong focus on economic development and poverty alleviation of surrounding communities in order to ensure our ultimate goal: that each park is ecologically, socially, and financially sustainable for the long term. 


By 2020, our goal is to manage 20 parks and protect more than 10 million hectares. Because of the geographic spread and representation of different ecosystems, this will be the most ecologically diverse portfolio of parks under one management across Africa. 


Watch a short film about Our Story here.

Elephants drinking at Zakouma National Park
Elephants drinking at Zakouma National Park © Michael Viljoen
© Dale Morris

We are facing a conservation crisis in Africa in which national parks and protected areas are being lost. 


Although there are more than 1,200 designated protected areas in Africa, many are just ‘paper parks’ and given current trends, it is unlikely that more than 60 parks larger than 100,000 hectares each will remain intact in the next 20 years. This is why the time is now to secure these critically threatened areas under the unique model of African Parks, to ensure that Africa’s wildlife and wild landscapes can survive long into the future. 


Akagera National Park, Rwanda
Akagera National Park, Rwanda © Horst Klemm

Africa’s wildlife and wild areas are under threat largely due to three main reasons: habitat loss and fragmentation due to the growing needs of the increasing human population; the illegal wildlife trade, a multi-billion dollar a year industry, driving the harrowing decline of elephants, rhinos and other species which is increasingly being carried out by well organised and heavily outfitted crime syndicates and even terrorist groups; and human-wildlife conflict which escalates as natural habitats are converted for development or agriculture. 

The degradation of these landscapes means that the ecosystem services on which humans depend are being lost forever. Competing forms of land use for an expanding human population, compounded by climate change, means that wildlife and their natural habitats are under serious threat and depend on well protected landscapes in order to survive.   


Mandate to Manage: 100% Accountability


African Parks is unique in that we are the only non-governmental organisation in Africa, and possibly the world, that takes on direct responsibility for the management of these critical ecosystems. This is achieved through entering into long-term agreements, usually for 20 years, with governments to manage and finance their national parks. By management, we mean taking on the direct day-to-day responsibility for the entire area including all the activities required to preserve and sustain the park. 


Key species are reintroduced to the parks and closely monitored. © Jean Labuschagne

What Makes African Parks Unique?


  • We have long-term contractual mandates to manage national parks for 20 years or more.
  • Our role is not to advise or provide technical support, but to take direct responsibility for parks placed under our supervision.
  • We become responsible for all the law enforcement staff, making sure they are properly equipped and trained.
  • We reintroduce species that have become locally extinct and put in place ecological monitoring programmes.
  • We establish infrastructure such as roads and bridges, as well as workshops, headquarters and housing.
  • We become responsible for implementing community programmes to ensure that local people benefit from the existence of a national park and understand its value.
  • Our approach is based on tried and tested business principles.
  • We aim to achieve ecological sustainability, socio-economic acceptability and financial viability.
  • Where conditions allow, we stimulate the development of tourism enterprises as a means of increasing the economic and social impact that parks can have.
  • Thanks to our endowment, our administrative and overhead expenses are covered, so 100 percent of the funds received from financial partners are allocated to projects on the ground. 


Our Structure

African Parks maintains razor-sharp focus on our very clear mandate: the direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas. In a relatively short period of time, we have established proof of concept and have maintained a solid, and growing track record. We have:

  • Mandates signed for 10 protected areas in seven countries six million hectares under management; the most amount of area under protection by one conservation NGO in all of Africa
  • 1,500 employees across Africa
  • The largest counter-poaching force in Africa with more than 600 rangers on staff
  • An MOU committing us to the development of Ennedi in Chad
  • Nine additional parks under consideration
  • Reintroduced lions back to Rwanda in 2015, a species that had been extirpated from the country after the genocide
  • Stopped an eight-year decimation of Zakouma’s elephant population in Chad,
  • Restored Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi in just ten years making it the country’s premiere wildlife sanctuary
  • Undertaken the world’s most significant elephant translocation (500Elephants) in Malawi, moving 500 elephants in Malawi 
Garamba National Park
Garamba National Park © Nuria Ortega

African Parks’ objective is to become the leading player in protected area management on the African continent by being the benchmark of management excellence and park sustainability. By 2020, African Parks aims to have responsibility for a portfolio of 20 parks covering an area of 10 million hectares. Because of the geographic spread and representation of different ecosystems, this will be one of the most ecologically diverse portfolio of parks in the world.