Chinko, also known as Chinko Nature Reserve and the Chinko Project Area, is a protected area in the Central African Republic. The nonprofit conservation organization African Parks began managing Chinko in partnership with the government of the Central African Republic in December 2014.
|Location||Central African Republic|
|Area||17,600 km2 (6,800 sq mi)|
Chinko is a 5.9 million hectare (or nearly 7,000 square miles) protected area in the southeastern part of the Central African Republic, managed by the nonprofit conservation organization African Parks as part of a fifty-year public–private partnership with the Ministry of Water, Forest, Hunting and Fishing. African Parks began managing Chinko in December 2014, becoming the eighth park to be included in the organization's management portfolio. David Simpson, who co-founded the project, serves as the park's manager.
Chinko is located on a volcanic plateau, 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level. Rain and other freshwater sources are plentiful, and Precambrian bedrock erosion has created a layer of alluvial soil, allowing abundant and diverse wildlife to disperse throughout the region. The park has been described having uncommon geology, plentiful water, and a role as a "diversifying agent".
Chinko has 17,600 km2 (6,795 sq mi) of "uninhabited Medio-Sudanian and Sudano Guinean" wooded savannah with some Congolese rainforest. These diverse ecosystems form an ecotone within the Chinko River basin and support a variety of wildlife, including several primate species, African forest elephants, 23 even-toed ungulate species, more than 20 types of carnivores, 5 anteater mammals, and approximately 500 bird species. Carnivores include the African wild dog, leopard, lion, and mongoose. Other species include: African buffalo, bongo, chimpanzee, monkey, crocodile, Eastern giant eland, giant forest hog, hartebeest (including Lelwel hartebeest), red forest duiker, warthog, waterbuck, and yellow-backed duiker.
The reserve is home to dozens of endangered species, and the following bird species: black-bellied bustards, buzzards, guineafowl, hoopoes, hornbills, kingfishers, secretarybirds, stone partridge, and sunbirds. Chinko, being an extensive block of pristine habitat, can provide the genetic diversity to recolonize the surrounding regions when populations there dwindle or become locally extinct.
Chinko previously served as a hunting reserve and was home to thousands of buffalo, elephant, and lion. The area saw significant decreases in wildlife populations during the 1980s–2000s because of cattle grazing, the ivory trade, and poaching. In 2002, it was reported that as much as 95 percent of wildlife in the Chinko region was lost.
Erik Mararv and his family acquired a hunting concession in 2005 and launched a safari operation called Central African Wildlife Adventures in 2006. During the safari's six years of operating, the Mararv family built two airstrips, guest rooms, and hundreds of miles of roads, imported machinery and trucks, and trained staff. David Simpson started working as a pilot for the safari company in 2010, and was asked by Mararv to return as general manager the following year. Foreign pastoralists, known as the Wodaabe (or Mbororo), started herding in more remote parts of the Central African Republic, including Chinko and surrounding areas, around 2012. The additional cattle grazing, overgrazing, poaching, and wildfires contributed to deforestation, desertification, and erosion. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service contributed nearly $100,000 in 2013 to reduce poaching by training rangers and reaching out to local communities to increase awareness of conservation efforts. Simpson co-created the Chinko Project to protect the area's habitat and wildlife, and began managing the park when African Parks took over operations in 2014. Thierry Aebischer, Raffael Hickisch, and Erik Mararv have also been credited as partners of the project.
Chinko had fifty park rangers in February 2016. In mid 2016, Simpson was reportedly managing 400 staff members and a $2.5 million budget, and Chinko was "the only major tax-generating entity in the entire eastern half of [the Central African Republic], and one of the largest employers and importers of foreign goods in the country". Chinko staff collected more than 700,000 wildlife sightings from motion-activated cameras by mid 2016, and used a small aircraft to identify and track animals and park intruders. Fondation Segré partnered with African Parks in 2016 to hire and train rangers, construct operations centers, improve communications technology, purchase equipment, and enhance data management.
African Parks is a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on conservation, established in 2000 and headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was founded as the African Parks Management and Finance Company, a private company, then underwent structural changes to become an NGO called African Parks Foundation, and later renamed African Parks Network. The organization manages national parks and protected areas throughout Africa, in collaboration with governments and surrounding communities. African Parks manages 15 protected areas in 9 countries, as of April 2018, and employs more than 1,000 rangers. Michael Eustace, Peter Fearnhead, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, Anthony Hall-Martin, and Mavuso Msimang are credited as co-founders; Fearnhead continues to serve as chief executive officer. Prince Harry was appointed African Parks' president in late 2017.Alphonse Lamola
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After serving as bodyguard to Kony for some time, Lamola rose to become his chief bodyguard when he moved to Garamba National Park in the spring of 2006. Later that year, he was placed in charge of the High Protection Unit (HPU), the main security group overseeing all the units tasked with protecting Kony and his families. He was later replaced by Otto Agweng, and given the leadership of a small unit (one of three composing the external wing of the HPU) tasked with protecting Kony’s camp. Lamola was often selected to move with Kony to Nabanga and to establish a security perimeter before Kony’s arrival.
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Wildlife in the Central African Republic is in the vast natural habitat located between the Congo Basin's rain forests and large savannas, where the human density was smaller than 0.5 per km2 prior to 1850. The forest area of 22.755 million has, considered as one of the richest storehouses of wild life spread over national parks, hunting reserves and community hunting areas, underwent a change over to an alarming situation of loss of wild life due to greed for ivory and bushmeat exploitation by the hunters, mostly Arab slavers from across the borders of the Central African Republic (Central African Republic) with Chad and Sudan.Realising the serious threat to the wildlife, the colonists – French Administration – in 1935 and later the Government of the Republic of CRA, enacted laws and created National parks and preserves, which covered 16.6% of the country. The three most coveted national parks are the Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park with its reported "greatest concentrations of hippos in the world", the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in the north; and the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve which covers rain forests. The Manovo-Gounda-Saint-Floris National Park, in particular was inscribed to the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in 1988 in recognition of the diversity of life present within it in respect of its wealth of flora and fauna. In 2014, the Chinko Nature Reserve in eastern CRA was granted management through a public-private partnership with the Central African Republic Ministry of Wildlife, Water and Forestry and African Parks, a conservation NGO that takes on the direct, long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments to save wildlife, restore landscapes and ensure sustainable livelihoods for local communities. African Parks has a mandate to manage this protected area, now referred to as the Chinko Project, for the next 50 years.
However, the legal instruments were not effective in controlling poaching activities for profits, as institutional support for protected areas has all along been weak with hunters and loggers not letting go their activities even in national parks. Most of the timber extracted from the CRA is exported to Europe.Situated in the east of the CRA, 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.
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