Improved protected area management to reduce poaching in Congo

Improved protected area management to reduce poaching in Congo


The Ndoki Foundation was created in 2014 to provide a new management structure for the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) in northern Republic of Congo, and with it, a new protected area management model for WCS in continental Africa. Between 2014 and 2015, this new model has enabled WCS to secure: a) full management responsibility for the protection of 4,200 km2 of pristine lowland rainforest that is a stronghold for gorillas and forest elephants, over the next 25 years; b) a fourfold expansion and professionalization of its ranger force; and c) a reduction of elephant poaching to zero in the Park in 2015.


The Republic of Congo holds 20% of all remaining forest elephants on earth, and 62% of the world’s gorillas. WCS has been supporting management of the NNNP through a co-management agreement with the Government of Congo (GOC) since the park’s creation in 1993. The last 10 years have brought considerable conservation challenges to the area, with rapid expansion of industrialized logging, and a wave of elephant poaching that began in earnest after 2006. The stakes for effective park management have never been higher, especially so in a country that is so poorly equipped, both financially and institutionally. Aware of this, in 2014 the GOC signed a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with WCS to manage the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. This brought about two significant changes for WCS: firstly, it conferred full management responsibility for the running of the park to WCS, including the deployment of the ranger force and implementation of the protection strategy. Secondly, it created a framework that allowed WCS to professionalize the park operations: develop management and business plans; secure significant new investment; and increase staffing and infrastructure to a level that is appropriate to successfully manage a national park in the 21st century. To evaluate and improve the impact of these changes on our enforcement effectiveness, we began implementing the SMART tool in 2014 to monitor patrol performance and levels of poaching.


Strengthening Management IconMANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS: Between 2013 and 2015, patrol coverage increased by 85%, now covering 72% of critical habitat in NNNP and its periphery. No poached elephants were detected in the NNNP in 2015 . Overall poaching pressure in the larger landscape (as measured by PIKE, the proportion of total dead elephants found that were illegally killed) was reduced by a third (from 94%-62%). Poaching however remains a persistent threat to these elephant populations that freely range in and out of the park borders.

Effective Governance IconGOVERNANCE: The Ndoki Foundation delegates day-to-day management responsibility of the NNNP to WCS. In early 2016, WCS was invited to develop a second PPP for the Ntokou-Pikounda National Park in the north of the country, Congo’s newest protected area. Across the two parks, this would collectively secure 3,500 forest elephants and 13,400 of the world’s gorilla population for the foreseeable future.


Higher PIKE values indicate higher poaching pressure. PIKE values above 0.5 indicate elephant populations are in decline, and our aim is to maintain PIKE values well below 0.5.

GRAPH: Following an upsurge of elephant poaching in and around the NNNP in 2011 (as measured by PIKE—the Proportion of dead elephants that were poached), poaching pressure began to decline in 2013, with zero poaching recorded inside NNNP in 2015

MAP: Under a new public-private partnership management model for the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in Congo, WCS is bringing elephant poaching under control in one of the last.

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