Bericht aus dem Zakouma National Park, Tschad
ZAKOUMA; BEYOND THE FRONTIER
Wildlife, not only in abundance, but layers of abundance. Animal colours differ, some with a soft Garfield-like brown tinge. Sunsets eclipsed with Harmattan dust blown in from the Sahara are other-wordly as the sun disappears high in the sky, followed by pastils of crepuscular light that renders West African lion, Lelwel’s hartebeest, giraffe and Buffon's kob incredibly invisible. The largest population of Kordofan giraffe and Central African buffalo are around. Birdlife is astounding with Sahel specials such as Abyssinian ground hornbill, Grasshopper buzzard and Stone partridge, culminating in massive flocks of northern crowned crane and northern carmine bee-eaters. That’s if you can see them that is, as cloudy flocks of quelea, snapped at by desert crocodile while on the wing, may block out the light. Night drives are off the charts and produce amongst others diminutive pale fox, variations of mongoose and jackal, serval & a ballet of standard-winged nightjar.
And then there are the elephants; possibly the most persecuted population in Africa that have returned from the edge with the help of a select group of people who have put their lives on the line. Forever will I speak out against those who claim that Africans do not care about Africa. Once down to a few there are now 600 in the 3000 km2 reserve. Their habits and ecology, adapted to the critical conditions and resolute need to stick together, redefine the laws of elephant behaviour making the Zakouma herds the largest in the world. The story of Zakouma with the elephant poaching and security issues, within the storyboard of recovery and hope, is absolutely unique. While watching a breeding herd in the remote south we were chased by a young male in defiance, yet similarly aged bulls, some carrying AK47 lead, tolerate being touched at the HQ waterhole.
This is the backdrop; and a tapestry of remoteness requiring three time zones to access. A bonanza of beauty, conservation success and incredible hope from the most unlikely of regions; Chad and the so called dead heart of Africa. A safari here, beyond the frontier, is more experimental than experiential. Not for the feint of heart, and despite extreme conditions, Zakouma will leave you stirred and speechless. These are my first impressions as I return home from the desert, in body at least, with my mind and soul due to arrive anytime soon.
Beyond expectations. Inshallah!