Characterised by perennial river systems, rich floodplains, and seasonal wildlife migrations, Zakouma National Park is a unique story of revival for central Africa. Once a stronghold for well over 4,000 elephants, by 2010 the park had lost 90% of its elephants to ivory poachers, while further havoc was wreaked on the park and local communities by poachers on horseback. But in that same year, the Government of Chad invited African Parks into a longterm agreement to manage Zakouma, to protect the last approximately 500 elephants, and to re-establish stability for the surrounding communities. The Park’s law enforcement and community engagement strategies were immediately overhauled and the results were palpable. Zakouma became known as a place of safety, a source of employment, and a service provider to communities previously desperately in need.

With each passing year wildlife numbers began to increase and by 2016 poaching was virtually eliminated, as security efforts took hold of the area. To build on this success, African Parks was invited in 2017 by the government to manage the Siniaka-Minia Wildlife Reserve (SMWR) and Bahr Salamat Faunal Reserve, including adjoining wildlife corridors, giving African Parks the mandate to manage the entire Greater Zakouma Ecosystem (GZE) of 28,162 km2 and have an even greater impact for wildlife and local communities.

Tourism has continued bringing much-needed revenue to the park and local people; and the GZE has remained the largest employer in the region, while creating a myriad of enterprise opportunities. The GZE is exactly where conservation needs to be headed, with government and long-term funding support, spanning vast landscapes, where people and wildlife can and do mutually benefit.

Zakouma Highlights

  • As many as 4,000 elephants were killed between 2002 and 2010, but since African Parks assumed management of Zakouma in 2010 poaching has been practically eliminated
  • 2021 marked five straight years without a single recorded poached elephant with 636 elephants being counted in the park - a 17% increase since 2010.
  • Zakouma is home to 50% of the global kordofan giraffe population and numbers are on the rise. The park’s buffalo population was reduced to about 220 animals in 1986 but now numbers over 15,000.
  • Zakouma is the largest employer in the region and provides additional opportunities for local income generation by facilitating the local procurement of park and tourism camp supplies and developing commercial community projects, such as honey harvesting and shea butter production.
  • With law restored and security reclaimed, tourists have begun visiting Zakouma to witness its abundant wildlife. The park’s Tinga Camp, Camp Nomade and Camp Salamat have seen an influx of local and international tourists, which in turn boosts local employment and trade opportunities.



Zakouma National Park is managed by African Parks in partnership with the Chadian Government. In 2010, the Chadian Government and European Union approached African Parks to assume management responsibility of the park with the aim of protecting the regions incredible biodiversity and to create a space place for people and wildlife. The mandate agreement was signed in June 2010, and African Parks began managing the park and its periphery that October. In October 2017, we doubled our footprint around Zakouma by signing an MoU with the Government to manage the Greater Zakouma Ecosystem, which includes the Siniaka Minia Faunal Reserve and other critical wildlife corridors.