A historic victory for elephants: Nouabalé-Ndoki national park marks first year without poaching

Finally no elephant poaching: 2023 is a historic year for Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, has much to celebrate. Marking its 30th anniversary on December 31, 2023, the park also shared an exhilarating conservation milestone: 2023 became the first year with no elephant poaching detected within its bounds.

Ben Evans, director of the park’s management unit, expressed in a press release:

“For the first time since we began collecting data, we have detected no elephants killed in the Park this year. This success comes after nearly a decade of concerted efforts to protect the forest elephants from armed poaching within the Park.”

Established by the Congo government in 1993 to preserve biodiversity in the region, the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park has been managed through a public-private partnership between the Congo’s Ministry of Forest Economy and the Wildlife Conservation Society since 2014.

Achieving This Milestone

Evans credits the ongoing collaboration, as the MEF and WCS have tackled increasing threats to wildlife in the region. This includes investments in the ranger force, enhancing their training and self-defense capabilities, making the force more effective in upholding the law and the rights of humans and animals alike.

Max Mviri, the park’s director for the Congolese government, noted:

“Thanks to strengthening our anti-poaching teams and new communication technologies, we have been able to significantly reduce poaching. Today we have over 90 eco-guards, all of whom have received extensive training and undergo refresher courses. What makes a difference is that 90% of our eco-guards come from villages near the Park. This gives them an added motivation since they are protecting their own forest.”

As other threats like deforestation and road infrastructure development impact the area’s wildlife, the Park’s partnerships with local communities and indigenous populations in the nearby villages of Bomassa and Makao are increasingly vital.

The Park’s Importance to Local Communities

Nouabalé-Ndoki has also recently become the world’s first Gorilla Friendly certified national park, ensuring best practices for all gorilla-related operations, from tourism to research. But gorillas and elephants – numbering over 2,000 and 3,000 respectively – are not the only species visitors can admire in the 4,334 square kilometers protected area.

The Park also hosts large populations of mammals like chimpanzees and bongos, in addition to a vast array of reptiles, birds, and insects. For flora enthusiasts, Nouabalé-Ndoki boasts an ancient mahogany tree and a huge forest of large-diameter trees.

Beyond the Park’s beauty, these tourism opportunities pave the way for significant developments for local communities, creating long-term jobs that are rare in the region and bringing substantial benefits to neighboring communities. Tourism is also emerging as a promising avenue for economic growth.

The Park and its partners also work to provide education, health centers, agricultural opportunities, and access to clean water, helping to create a safe environment for people who share the land with these protected animals. In fact, the health centers in Makao and Bomassa receive up to 250 patients a month, and Nouabalé-Ndoki provides ongoing access to primary education for nearly 300 students in nearby villages.

Source: Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park

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