Highlights and Main Attractions of Garamba National Park
One of Africa’s oldest national parks, Garamba is located in the far northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, along the border with South Sudan. Measuring almost 2,000 square miles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is composed of immense savannah grasslands, as well as forests that line the rivers and swamps of the region. In spite of the wealth of natural beauty here, Garamba is situated in one of the most hostile parts of Africa, and in the past has sheltered a number of armed militia groups, including Joseph Kony’s infamous Lord’s Resistance Army.
Thankfully, the involvement of non-profit organisation African Parks has helped to save this wondrous wilderness. Formed in 2000, African Parks works to protect some of the continent’s most threatened national parks, including Zakouma in Chad and Odzala-Kokoua in the Republic of Congo. African Parks assumed management of Garamba in 2005, eventually stabilising the area through a combination of community engagement and overhauled law enforcement strategies.
Almost 500 people from the surrounding communities are now employed as full-time staff, with a further 2,000 on short-term contracts. Park rangers now benefit from expert training and better equipment, with a rapid-response force on 24/7 standby. The park’s elephant population, which fell by 90% over the course of 40 years, has experienced just two poaching deaths in 2018. Poachers and militias remain constant threats, but never before has Garamba been so well protected against them.
The natural treasures for whom Garamba’s dedicated staff put their lives on the line are numerous. Some 1,200 elephants roam the savannah, but hippos and buffalo can also be seen here, as well as a number of species of antelope (bushbuck, bongo and Ugandan kob among them). Warthogs snuffle among the undergrowth, vervet monkeys leap acrobatically from treetop to treetop, and predators like lions, leopards and hyenas prowl through the grasslands.
These are just some of the marvellous animals who were once doomed to destruction here in Garamba, and while their future may not yet be completely assured, their presence today is a testament to what can be achieved when humans endeavour to protect, rather than exploit, the wildlife that exists alongside them.