The Chinko Project sustainably manages a nature reserve in the heart of Africa – one of the last pristine mosaics of wooded savannah and tropical lowland rainforest deep within the Central African Republic. This project goes beyond conservation, it represents hope for stability and governance in one of the poorest regions on earth with an endless history of corruption, depletion of natural resources and military conflicts. The Chink Project as a governance body supports local communities, protects the ecosystem and maintains economic value through tourism thus providing the key to a sustainable future for this thriving ecosystem.
Humans have had a low impact on the Chinko/Mbari Drainage basin due to the fact that there are no permanent settlements or agricultural activities within the region. The Chinko nature reserve covers roughly 17,600 sq km of the basin’s southern part – representing a purely fascinating ecotone of rainforest and savannah.
The particular habitat of the Chinko allows for an incredible richness of species, and puzzling phenomena, making it a hotspot of biodiversity. So far more than 75 mammals (including Wild Dog, Elephant, Lelwel Hartebeest, Eastern Giant Eland, Bongo, Lion and Leopard) have been documented.
The area of the Chinko Project faces two major threats: armed Sudanese herdsmen with cattle herds exceeding 1000 each use the area for grazing, thus depleting the habitat and putting stress on wildlife, including actively pursuing and exterminating predators and bushmeat poaching for Sudanese markets; specialized Sudanese ivory poachers threaten the small herds of surviving forest elephants. The Chinko staff takes action by
- conducting research to better understand the complexities and trade chains underlying the bushmeat and ivory trade from Chinko to Sudan
- providing incentives for the herdsmen to pass through a designated livestock corridor as quickly as possible
- informing herdsmen about possibilities of protecting their livestock against predators
- building capacity by training and deploying CAR park rangers and supporting local school programs to make people better understand the value of wildlife
- monitoring and patrolling the area with advanced surveillance strategies
- detecting and disarming poaching infringers inside the nature reserve and hand them over to the next state authority.
Erik Mararv, owner of Central African Wildlife Adventures, born and raised in CAR and well-known professional hunter has an extensive knowledge of the region, and a profound network in Central Africa. His involvement was indispensable in the founding of the Chinko Project and he serves as one of the board members. On the advisory board are personalities like Jean-Baptiste Mamang, Director of Wildlife for the Central African Government from 2007 until 2014, Philipp Henschel, Lion Regional Program Coordinator at Panthers, and Louisa Lombard, writer of the preceding article “Blame War, not Safaris”, and famed John Michael Fay of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
You can stay informed about the Chinko Project by subscribing to the Chinko Project Newsletter on the website, or by following on Twitter or Vimeo. There are also several publications as downloadable pdf files available on the Chink Project website, like for example,
- Chinko Project Headquarters Masterplan
- The Chinko Project: Sustainable Nature Management In The Chinko/Mbari Drainage Basin, Central African Republic
- An Update On African Elephant Loxodonta africana In The Chinko/Mbari Drainage Basin, Central African Republic
- Evidence Of African Wild Dogs In The Central African Republic
- Study Design: Using Camera Traps To Survey Bongo Antelope In The Chinko/Mbari Drainage Basin, Central African Republic
Note: All photos © Chinko Project