The ECOFAUNE project is not only about restoring biodiversity in northern Central African Republic, it’s also about giving a new hope to local people after years of civil war.
The project’s main objective of conserving ecosystem services is fully aligned with the EU's strategic approach to biodiversity conservation in Africa - 'Larger than Elephants'. The northern area of Central African Republic comprises 40% of the watershed of Lake Chad; maintaining its plant cover and the balance of flora and fauna are thus essential to ensuring the continued provision of this vital resource. In addition, the conservation and good functioning of protected areas such as Northern Central African Republic support economic development.
ECOFAUNE aims to
- improve environmental governance at local level
- manage natural resources and support law enforcement
- contribute to the development of Northern Central African Republic
- protection of wildlife, improving security, information management: ecosystems are sustainably managed and restored to a level that allows for their conservation and exploitation.
- participatory and sustainable land management: the North-East Central African Republic is provided with a master plan for development agreed through a consensual process with all stakeholders.
- economic and social development of local populations: social support measures are implemented for the benefit of local people, in order to boost skills and citizenship training and to stimulate sustainable social and economic development.
- the entire infrastructure of Bamingui-Bangoran National Park has been restored and made operational again after looting during the civil war.
- 46 rangers have been locally hired, trained and equipped; and from January 2018 have been carrying out successful anti-poaching operations in Bamingui-Bangoran National Park.
- 1 020 km of track have been re-opened in the national park and its buffer zone, using local labourers.
- 1 aerial survey and a foot survey, covering 63,700 km², were carried out to estimate wildlife numbers within and around Bamingui-Bangoran and Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Parks.
- 4 economic microprojects were launched with local women’s associations.
- a masterplan for development was produced for the Bamingui-Bangoran region, an area of 58,200 km².
Bertrand Dilla is Chief warden of the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park. He has witnessed the rebirth of the park and the return of wildlife.
"Since the start of the ECOFAUNE project’s earliest activities I have become optimistic about the future of national parks in northern Central African Republic. The protected areas in this region, once considered a paradise for their wealth of wildlife, unlike many other places where I have worked in the past, have experienced an incredible amount of poaching and destruction, driven by civil war. Almost all the elephants have disappeared and most other large mammal species have reached or are approaching extinction at the local level. Nevertheless, thanks to the ECOFAUNE project, since 2016, when anti-poaching activities restarted and control of the park was re-established, I’ve realised that reconstruction of this paradise is possible."
"The park is enormous and so regaining control of its entirety is very difficult, especially given the local context. For this reason, the project decided to start by protecting a ‘core’ of 2,500 km² in the south of the park in which it could guarantee full protection for the wildlife. Just one year later, I saw wild animals return to this secured area. Two years on, we have regained control of around 7,000 km²."
"Unfortunately, much of the local population views nature conservation initiatives and anti-poaching measures in Bamingui-Bangoran national park as impediments to the satisfaction of their primary needs. They find it hard to understand the importance of using the resources in a more controlled and sustainable way, or to perceive any benefits that are more profitable than simply converting it to smoked meat that they can sell cheaply to shopkeepers in the towns."
"This is the sort of message that ECOFAUNE has attempted to communicate through frequent information campaigns in the area. And above all through the various economic microprojects developed by the project for the benefit of women’s associations in the region: the production of shea butter, for example, generated income of 300,000 CFA francs (€470) a month for women in Kotissako village on the park’s periphery, while the community bakery at Bamingui made 210,000 CFA francs (€420) a month, both of which are significant sums in the local economic context." - Bertrand Dilla, Chief warden of the Bamingui-Bangoran National Park