Deep in the Central African Republic (CAR) lies an unknown wildlife refuge. Few have heard of Chinko, a unique area that spans a vast 17,600 km2 where savannah and tropical forest collide. These mixed habitats have resulted in an extraordinary diversity of wildlife. Even more miraculous is that despite decades of elephant and bushmeat poaching, cattle and herdsman who move through the area, and political insecurity over the years, remnant populations of most key species here have persisted and the ecosystem has remained intact, making this one of the largest ecosystems with the greatest conservation potential in all of central Africa.

The park is home to as many as ten primate species, including a significant population of chimpanzees; five felid species including the highly vulnerable Central African lion, leopard, serval, the rare golden cat, and 19 other carnivore species like the African wild dog and nine mongoose species (the most documented for any one protected area in the world). Twenty-three species of even-toed ungulates including the iconic Lord Derby’s eland and Bongo have been documented; and both forest and savannah elephants exist here, making this one of the last holdouts for elephants in the country. A minimum of 400 bird species have also been identified, and it is believed that as many as 600 could exist.

Communities living around Chinko are among the most marginalised people, not just in Central Africa but on the planet, with little to no infrastructure, employment, education or health services. The community benefits provided by African Parks, such as employment, education and health care, are key to the long-term future of the park.

Highlights

  • African Parks was awarded the mandate to manage the park in 2014 for 50 years.
  • Chinko was recognised by the government of the Central African Republican (CAR) as one of the top five international NGOs in the country for its contribution to national development.
  • Chinko is the largest employer outside of the capitol of Bangui with more than 400 local people employed and is by far the largest tax payer in Eastern CAR.
  • African Parks established Chinko’s first law enforcement unit, comprising of 64 rangers, who underwent a gruelling two-month training course.
  • A core protection zone of 10,000km2 free of threats has been secured by the committed ranger team and wildlife are being seen more frequently.
  • A programme to engage with herdsmen is underway with the goal of establishing routes to deviate them from the Chinko area.
  • The construction of headquarters and an improved 180 km road network, including 50 km of new roads, have been the first steps toward meeting Chinko’s critical need for infrastructure.
  • In the first monitoring project for the Eastern giant eland in the history of the park, indivudlas have been radio collared and 11 separate herds have been documented, with one herd comprising of more than 150 individuals.
  • Chinko provided funds to assist with the construction of a Secondary School in Bakouma, the closest town to Chinko.
  • Access to health services is essential for developing communities and medical equipment was donated to the local hospital in Bakouma.

Partners

Chinko is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the CAR Ministry of Environment for Sustainable Development of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing and African Parks has a mandate to manage this important protected area for 50 years. This partnership assures that Chinko supports local communities, protects the ecosystem, and maintains economic value through tourism – providing the key to a sustainable future for this thriving ecosystem.

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