© ADAM PARKISON
AboutChinko

CHINKO IS ONE OF THE MOST BIODIVERSE REGIONS ON THE CONTINENT, AND ONE OF THE ONLY PLACES IN THE WORLD WHERE BOTH SAVANNAH AND RAINFOREST SPECIES ARE FOUND IN ONE RESERVE.

 

Situated in the east of the Central African Republic (CAR), in a country that has lost 95% of its wildlife, Chinko is one of the region’s only remaining strongholds for numerous species including the highly threatened Lord Derby eland, bongo, and chimpanzees. This important ecosystem, however, is under tremendous pressure from militarized ivory poachers and intense levels of cattle grazing. With a 50-year management agreement, we aim to restore and protect this incredible landscape and to build an economically sustainable future through through tourism.

Partner:

 

Chinko is a public-private partnership with the Central African Republic Ministry of Wildlife, Water and Forestry 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.

Chinko’s once vibrant ecosystem is now under enormous strain. © Adam Parkison

Achievements:

 

  • The Chinko Project has been awarded the mandate to manage the park for 50 years.

  • A five-year plan has been developed, with the first phase focusing on infrastructure development and capacity building.

  • The construction of the Chinko headquarters is underway, as well as the improvement of the road network.

  • A special project focusing on Lord Derby’s Eland has been introduced as these are two of the savannah species under the most pressure.

 

 

  • The project has visited schools in the communities of Bakouma, Lengo and Zime to deliver teaching materials and conduct presentations on Chinko.

  • A programme to engage with herdsmen is underway with the goal of establishing routes to deviate them from the Chinko area.

  • Local sourcing agreements are being established with communities to provide supplies for ranger units and other Chinko employees. 

© RYAN YOUNGBLOOD
Fauna&Flora

WITH AT LEAST 80 CONFIRMED LARGE- AND MEDIUM-SIZED MAMMAL SPECIES AND OVER 400 BIRD SPECIES, CHINKO IS ALSO HOME TO THE ONLY POPULATION OF SAVANNAH WILDLIFE LEFT IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. 

 

Chinko is home to the only viable population of savannah species, like African wild dog, lion, eastern giant eland, Lelwel hartebeest and Defassa waterbuck left in the Central African Republic.

Flora

 

One of the last pristine areas deep within the Central African Republic, Chinko comprises a mosaic of undisturbed wooded savannah and rainforest, which allows for an incredible richness of species. The convergence of the two different ecosystems creates a unique area where species and habitats overlap.

 

Fauna

 

A massive inventory of pictures from more than 450 camera sites and more than 15,000 camera-days have provided photographic proof of species presence. This research has documented more than 11 primate species including chimpanzees, both forest and savannah elephants, 23 even-toed ungulates, five ant-eating mammals, 24 carnivores including the endangered African wild dog, lion, nine different species of mongoose as well as more than 400 bird species.

 

Chinko is most well-known for the statuesque Lord Derby eland, secretive bongo, chimpanzees, giant forest hogs, and six different forest duiker species. Interestingly, the yellow-backed and white-bellied duiker are found in Chinko’s savannah-dominated area instead of their traditional forest habitats. 

P. pardus. Leopard. Chinko Project CAR. © Aebischer.T Exalto.Y, Simpson.D.
H.m. rimato. Giant Forest Hog. Chinko Project CAR. © Aebischer Thierry.

Threatened Species

 

Since the 1980s, Chinko has lost three mega-herbivores. At one time, Chinko offered superb habitat for Kordofan giraffes, western black rhinoceros, and northern square-lipped rhinoceros. However, heavy poaching resulted in the extinction of these three species, as well as a dramatic reduction in the numbers of African savannah and African forest elephants. The African savannah species now seems to be locally extinct, while a few hundred forest elephant remain.

 

The Lord Derby Eland, which is one of Chinko’s most iconic species, requires urgent intervention and a special project has been devised to collar them for a better understanding of their movements as well as future capture and breeding.

A special project has been devised to collar the iconic Lord Derby Eland. © Adam Parkison
Main Species List

Carnivores

Lion Panthera leo
Leopard Panthera pardus
African wild dog Lycaon pictus
Spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta
Serval Leptailurus serval
Caracal  Caracal caracal
Golden cat Caracal aurata

Large herbivores

Savannah elephant Loxodonta africana
Forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis
Lord Derby’s eland Tragelaphus derbianus
Lowland bongo Tragelaphus eurycerus eurycerus
Lelwel Hartebeest  Alcelaphus buselaphus lelwel ​

 

Primates

Patas monkey  Erythrocebus patas
Crowned monkey  Cercopithecus pogonias

Hogs

Red river hog  Potamochoerus porcus
Common warthog  Phacochoerus africanus
Giant forest hog  Hylochoerus meinertzhageni

 

© RYAN YOUNGBLOOD
COMMUNITYINVOLVEMENT

THERE ARE NO PERMANENT SETTLEMENTS OR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN THE AREA, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A COMMUNITY IN THE FAR SOUTH-WEST OF CHINKO. 

 

This lack of regional community pressure means that there is ample opportunity to work with the surrounding population, in partnership with the Central African Republic government, to promote conditions for sustainable development based on a better understanding of the value of wildlife. 

 

This project goes beyond conservation - it represents hope for stability and governance in a part of the world with an endless history of corruption, depletion of natural resources and military conflicts.

There is ample opportunity to work with the communities. © Ryan Youngblood

Education

 

Up until now, the communities that live within the surroundings of Chinko have received no education on the importance of conservation. A key goal of the project is to educate the next generation on the value of wildlife and explain that it is a sustainable resource of value that can secure a more positive future for them and potentially even stabilise the region. The project has visited schools in the communities of Bakouma, Lengo and Zime, delivering essential teaching materials such as pens and books, while also conducting an informative presentation on the project for the children and teachers.

 

Due to a general lack of teachers as a result of the coup d’état in CAR, the community’s parents have developed a “parent teacher” system to keep the schools running. For example, parents that can read and write will teach these skills in the school.

The Central African people are in need of a sustainable form of income. © Ryan Youngblood

 

Employment

 

The Central African people are amongst the poorest on the continent and in desperate need of a sustainable form of income in order to improve their quality of life. Local employment opportunities have already been created through the establishment of the initial ranger team. It is anticipated that once further tourism offerings are introduced, there will be additional opportunities for employment. 

Community Project

 

An extensive program is underway to educate herdsmen on the value of conservation and to establish grazing routes outside of the Chinko are in order to alleviate the pressure that has been placed on the reserve and its wildlife by the cattle herders and the associated over-grazing. Efforts are also ongoing to establish local-sourcing agreements with communities to provide materials and supplies to ranger units and other reserve employees. 

© AFRICAN PARKS
LawEnforcement

BY EMPOWERING THE LOCAL POPULATION AND PROVIDING WELL-ORGANISED AND WELL-MANAGED BOOTS ON THE GROUND, CHINKO HAS EXCELLENT POTENTIAL TO PROVIDE STABILITY IN AN AREA THAT HAS SEEN DECADES OF UNREST AND CONFLICT. 

 

 

Threats

 

There are two main threats present in the area, both of which come from Sudan; cattle herders and poachers. Firstly, Sudanese cattle herders come into the Chinko area in groups of about 50 people with 500 heads of cattle. They are paid to look after the livestock and graze the cattle in the area for between three and four months every year, before returning to Sudan in the rainy season.

Chinko is under tremendous pressure as a result of poaching. © Ryan Youngblood

To supplement their income, they poach wildlife in the reserve and smoke it, and sell it as bushmeat when they cross back into Sudan. The second threat comes from Sudanese ivory poachers. These groups are highly militarised and can spend up to two years in the bush poaching elephants. Together these two elements are having a devastating impact on Chinko’s wildlife populations.

 

CHINKO HAS EXCELLENT POTENTIAL TO PROVIDE STABILITY IN AN AREA THAT HAS SEEN DECADES OF UNREST AND CONFLICT.

Training

 

The recruitment and training of park rangers is the first step in establishing a law enforcement unit that can combat poaching on the ground. These rangers will patrol Chinko throughout the year by foot, while air surveillance will also be put in place to monitor the area.

 

A pre-selection process took place in the communities based in the areas surrounding Chinko in order to identify potential rangers for the initial park ranger unit, followed by an intensive selection programme for all the potential candidates. As the local community does not have a conservation background, a great deal of training was required before they were ready to enter into the field. Training included teaching them how to use GPS devices, radio communications, as well as weapon care and handling.

Sudanese cattle herders are one of the main threats. © Ryan Youngblood