March and April have flown by, but not without extraordinary and difficult events. On the 11th of April, two rangers were killed in Garamba while encountering armed elephant poachers who were working on nine elephant carcasses. Garamba staff, while mourning the loss of their colleagues, continued ranger training and preparations to collar 40 elephants, one of the largest elephant collaring exercises to date. In the same month on Earth Day, a spotlight was shone on African Parks and Garamba and the fight to save elephants, by Hillary Clinton at the NYC Tribeca Film Festival who implored the audience to join the fight in protecting Africa’s elephants by supporting African Parks.
In Chinko, our team on the ground has done an exceptional job of continuing to expand the size of the core protection area, securing close to an expansive 10,500 km2 – three times the size we had aimed for this year. We’re seeing more wildlife – growing herds of eland, more lions are calling and hippo pods expanding – all responding to this safe zone. We’re also seeing Chinko play a critical humanitarian role – in April over 200 refugees fleeing for their own safety due to the unrest in the Central African Republic, sought security from the park and are being fed, cared for, and protected from the rebels. It’s a stressful and political situation but highlights the extended benefits well-managed protected areas provide.
This leads me into announcing the release of our 2016 Annual Report, titled “Impact Defined”. In this document, we have attempted to define the impact of the ten parks currently under management. It demonstrates that well-managed parks benefit the wildlife and natural diversity for which they were established, but equally to the millions of people who find themselves living in safer and more stabilised regions, who have employment, healthcare, food security, and education.
On behalf of everyone at African Parks, we are very grateful for the support you granted us in 2016 to realise these extraordinary impacts for people and wildlife alike, and we thank you for your ongoing commitment in helping us expand these impacts throughout 2017 and beyond.