Since 2016 we conduct research in Sena Oura National Park in Chad. The park borders with Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon, where we study the lion populations for several years now. The expansion to Chad falls under the “Large Carnivore Project” that we carry out in collaboration with Ecole de Faune and GIZ. We look back on a pleasant acquintaince with local people and park management, with good prospects for future research.
The park officially exists since 2009, but has a unique history. It is established at the request of the local community. They saw the importance of preserving the wooded area. In 2005, all chieftains of the villages in the area jointly submitted a request to the government of Chad. This request was granted in 2009 and Sena Oura National Park was born. A wonderful starting point for nature development in the area.
Although the national park was established at the request of the local people, it is under pressure from illegal human activities. Gold miners disturb the area with their excavations and pollute the environment with poisonous chemicals. Wildlife is poached for bush meat and nomadic cattle herders travel through the park with their livestock, which competes for food with wild herbivores. Also, the need for agricultural land is still increasing, deforesting the immediate surroundings of the park resulting in its further isolation. Most of these problems are also present in Bouba Ndjida National Park, at the Cameroonian side of the border.
Leo Foundation trained two lion guards to work in Sena Oura. This year they executed carnivore censuses to get an idea of wildlife numbers in the park. For example, we observed spotted hyaenas. The guards also count the number of cattle, to map the extent of livestock activities in the park. In addition, the guards visit the surrounding villages for educational sessions and to inventory human-wildlife conflicts.
In the second quarter of 2016, researchers Iris Kirsten and Elise Bakker visited Sena Oura. During their stay, they visited villages for an awareness campaign and educational workshops on nature conservation and carnivores. They also discussed human activities threatening the park and possible solutions for conflicts with wildlife. They were particularly surprised by the high attendance of the meetings and people’s willingness to share information. We have gathered valuable information about their problems, which we will turn into suitable mitigation methods. Furthermore, Iris and Elise also spoke to the senior park manager of Sena Oura. He confirmed the positive attitude of the local community towards nature conservation. According to him, the main obstacles are the lack of proper infrastructure and lack of available funds.
We look back on a successful visit. We are excited about the willingness of the local communities to contribute to nature conservation and would like to support them in collaboration with park management. There is much to do, but with the right management and resources, we see a bright future for Sena Oura. We offer our knowledge and expertise and will start a fund raising campaign.