Garamba National Park

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Garamba National Park
Garamba National Park overhead.jpg
Aerial view of the park
LocationDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Coordinates4°0′N 29°15′E / 4.000°N 29.250°E / 4.000; 29.250Coordinates: 4°0′N 29°15′E / 4.000°N 29.250°E / 4.000; 29.250
Area5,200 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
Governing body
Criteriavii, x
Designated1980 (4th session)
Reference no.136

Garamba National Park (French: Parc national de la Garamba) is a nearly 2,000-square-mile (5,200 km2; 1,300,000-acre) national park in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is among Africa's oldest parks, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980 for its protection of critical habitat for northern white rhinoceroses, elephants, hippopotamuses, and giraffes.[1] Garamba has been managed by African Parks in partnership with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), since 2005.


Garamba National Park was established in 1938 and covers an area of a 4,900 km2 (1,900 sq mi) in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is bounded by Gangala-na-Bodio Hunting Reserve on the west, south, and east, and borders South Sudan on the north and northeast. It is part of the Sudano–Guinean savanna zone.[2][3] The park is one of Africa's oldest protected areas.[4] It lies in the transition zone between two centres of endemism: Guinea-Congolian and Guinean-Sudanese savanna. These two biogeographic zones support a variety of wildlife, which have experienced population declines in recent decades because of poaching.[5] Garamba National Park has been managed by the nonprofit conservation organization African Parks as part of a partnership with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), since 2005.[6] ICCN rangers and augmented with soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo work to protect Garamba from poachers and rebel groups.[5]


The national park was established in 1938.[4][7]

The park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, and was included on the specialized agency's List of World Heritage in Danger from 1984–1992.[8][9] Between 1991 and 1993, 50,000 Sudanese refugees settled outside Garamba after being displaced by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, resulting in increased poaching. There were reportedly 121 conflicts between poachers and park rangers between 1993 and 1995, and more than 900 weapons recovered by rangers during 1991–1996.[7] The International Rhino Foundation provided funding for patrol vehicles in 1994, and ranger salaries in 1995. In February 1996, two rhinos—one male, Bawesi, and Juliet, a pregnant female—were killed.[7] Garamba was added back to the danger list in 1996 because of northern white rhinoceros poaching.[10][11] Following a number of defeats during the First Congo War and Second Sudanese Civil War, most importantly Operation Thunderbolt, the Ugandan insurgents of WNBF and UNRF (II) took refuge in Garamba National Park in 1997.[12] Organizations like the Frankfurt Zoological Society, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and World Wildlife Fund have also worked with local authorities to rehabilitate Garamba.[7]

Garamba has been managed by African Parks as part of a partnership with ICCN, since 2005. African Parks' anti-poaching efforts have reportedly been successful at reducing animal deaths.[6] According to BBC, Garamba's management has been financed by the European Union and private donors.[10] Other contributors have included the United States Agency for International Development, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildcat Foundation, and World Bank,[13] according to African Parks.[14]

Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit together with Domaine Chasse Bili Uere.[15]

Poachers have killed at least 21 park rangers in the last decade, as of 2017, and security concerns have contributed to Garamba's struggle to establish itself as a tourist destination.[3] Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army have used the park for sanctuary.[5][6][16] In 2009, the guerrilla group attacked Garamba's Nagero station, killing at least eight people, including two park rangers, and wounding an additional thirteen. Rebels also stole food and fuel, and destroyed several of the park's buildings.[6] Poachers killed five rangers and three members of the Congolese armed forces in three conflicts in 2015,[5][17] and more were killed in October.[18] In April 2016, poachers shot and killed three rangers, and wounded others (including Garamba's manager at the time),[19][20][21] and two park rangers were killed by elephant poachers in April 2017.[6][17][20] According to photojournalist Kate Brooks, who filmed in Garamba for her documentary The Last Animals, thirteen park rangers and military personnel were killed defending Garamba between January 2015 and April 2017.[22]

In 2017, National Geographic Documentary Films released The Protectors: Walk in the Rangers' Shoes, a short virtual reality documentary directed by Kathryn Bigelow about the park's rangers and their efforts to protect Garamba's wildlife.[3][23] The Tribeca Film Festival posthumously awarded the Disruptor Award to rangers killed protecting Garamba "for their work and bravery in defending elephants", in April 2017.[22]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The park's savannah grasslands support a low density of acacias.[5][6] Some of the Garamba's grasses can grow as high as 10 feet (3.0 m).[3]

Garamba is home to a variety of mammal species, including various species of antelope,[24] as well as buffalo, elephants, hyenas, giant forest hogs, giraffes, hippopotamus, and lions.[5][6][17] The park hosts the Democratic Republic of Congo's only remaining population of giraffes, the Kordofan subspecies, which numbers less than 60 individuals; and one of the country's largest remaining populations of elephants.[5][6]

Garamba's elephants are considered a hybrid of the African savanna and African forest subspecies.[5] Poaching has reduced the park's elephant population in recent decades.[4] There were around 2,800 elephants in 2011.[4] In 2017, there were estimated to be fewer than 2,000 elephants in Garamba, a significant decline from the approximately 20,000 reported in the 1960s and 1970s.[5][3][17] 22 elephants were killed in 2012,[4] and in 2014 poachers killed 68 of Garamba's elephants within two months.[17][25][26]

Reported giraffe population sizes have varied, but show a general decline. According to Mongabay, the population's recorded peak was 300 in 1976, and more than 100 were reported in 2008.[6] The Times said there were 356 giraffes in 1993, and only 86 by 2007.[27] The Christian Science Monitor said there were 86 in 2003 and only 38 in 2016.[28] There are 55 giraffes in the park, as of 2020. Poaching is the greatest threat to Garamba's giraffe population.[6][29]

The park once had the last wild population of the northern white rhinoceros.[5][4][11] Only fifteen northern white rhinos were reported in Garamba in the mid 1980s, prompting the park's inclusion on UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger.[7] In 2003–2004, there were reportedly between 20 and 25 white rhinos in the park.[30][31][32]

138 mammal species and 286 bird species, including the secretarybird,[4] have been recorded in the park.[7]

Interactions between people and wild animals in and around the park has resulted in human–wildlife conflict. Local and South Sudanese poachers hunt for elephants, often in search of ivory.[6][17] Garamba's wildlife are also impacted by groups such as the Huda and Wodaabe (or "Mbororo") seeking pasture.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Garamba National Park". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  2. ^ De Merode, E., Hillman-Smith, K., Nicholas, A., Ndey, A. and Likango, M. (2000). "The spatial correlates of wildlife distribution around Garamba National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo". International Journal of Remote Sensing. 21 (13–14): 2665–2683. doi:10.1080/01431160050110223. S2CID 3495760.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e Actman, Jani; Bale, Rachael (2017). "Go on Patrol with Elephant Guardians in New 360 Film". National Geographic. ISSN 0027-9358. OCLC 643483454. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Gettleman, J. (2012). "Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Canby, P. (2016). "Shootout in Garamba". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. ISSN 0028-792X. OCLC 320541675. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Nicolon, Thomas (9 May 2017). "DRC's Garamba National Park: The last giraffes of the Congo". Mongabay. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Avant, Deborah D. (25 July 2005). The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security. Cambridge University Press. pp. 205–206. ISBN 9780521615358. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  8. ^ "World Heritage Committee: Eighth Ordinary Session" (PDF). UNESCO. 1984. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  9. ^ "World Heritage Committee: Twentieth Session" (PDF). UNESCO. p. 32. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Prince William in plan to tackle wildlife trafficking". BBC. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  11. ^ a b Heale, Jay; Yong, Jui Lin (2009). Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marshall Cavendish. p. 67. ISBN 9780761444787. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  12. ^ Prunier (2004), p. 377.
  13. ^ "State of Conservation: Garamba National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo)". UNESCO. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Partners: Garamba". African Parks. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  15. ^ IUCN Cat Specialist Group (2006). Conservation Strategy for the Lion Panthera leo in Eastern and Southern Africa. Pretoria, South Africa: IUCN.
  16. ^ Chandrasekaran, Rajiv (29 October 2013). "Kony 2013: U.S. Quietly Intensifies Effort to Help African Troops Capture Infamous Warlord". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 16 January 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Dasgupta, Shreya (25 April 2017). "Two wildlife rangers killed by poachers in Democratic Republic of the Congo". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  18. ^ "Four rangers from the patrol team killed by poachers in Congo's Garamba National Park". ABC Online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  19. ^ Staufenberg, Jess (26 April 2016). "Elephant poachers kill three rangers at a wildlife park in the Democratic Republic of Congo". The Independent. London: Independent Print Limited. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  20. ^ a b "Armed poachers killing rangers who defend elephants in Congo park". CBS News. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  21. ^ "African park ranger hits out at Hong Kong ivory trade". The Star. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  22. ^ a b Brooks, Kate (13 May 2017). "Where Terrorism and the Ivory Trade Collide". The Daily Beast. IAC. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  23. ^ Coyle, Jake (23 April 2017). "Kathryn Bigelow on VR: 'I Love It'". Daily Herald. Arlington Heights, Illinois: Paddock Publications. OCLC 18030507. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  24. ^ East, Rod (1990). Antelopes: Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, Part 3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. p. 131. ISBN 9782831700168. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Nearly 70 elephants slaughtered by poachers at national park in Africa: officials". New York Daily News. Tronc. 13 June 2014. OCLC 9541172. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  26. ^ Min, Ariel (13 June 2014). "68 elephants killed in the last two months at African wildlife refuge". PBS. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  27. ^ Starkey, Jerome (16 January 2016). "Congo giraffes near to extinction". The Times. London: News UK. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  28. ^ Hinckley, Story (28 February 2016). "Why Is This Rare Giraffe Almost Extinct?". The Christian Science Monitor. Christian Science Publishing Society. ISSN 0882-7729. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  29. ^ "KORDOFAN GIRAFFE CONSERVATION IN DRC". Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  30. ^ Sieff, Kevin (17 June 2015). "Lumbering into Extinction". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  31. ^ Bisset, Susan (10 October 2003). "Congolese rebel troops push rare white rhino toward extinction". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. ISSN 1553-8478. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  32. ^ "Warning over loss of white rhino". The Irish Times. 21 May 2004. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 9 October 2017 – via HighBeam Research.

Works cited[edit]

  • Prunier, Gérard (July 2004). "Rebel Movements and Proxy Warfare: Uganda, Sudan and the Congo (1986–99)". African Affairs. 103 (412): 359–383. doi:10.1093/afraf/adh050. JSTOR 3518562.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]