MIKE Support for Dzanga Sangha (APDS)
The Dzanga-Sangha Complex of Protected Areas covers an area of approximately 4,500km² in the southwest of the Central African Republic. The complex is internationally known for its extensive rainforests, which are host to a remarkable diversity of wildlife including forest elephants, western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Sharing borders with Cameroun and the Congo, the APDS is part of the Tri-National Sangha World Heritage Site. The area has suffered in recent years from the breakdown of peace and security which has impacted much of the C.A.R.
In the past, anti-poaching initiatives supported in the area have lacked the ongoing support and resources to implement a coherent law enforcement approach. Thanks to sustained funds from the EU, since 2018 the MIKE Programme has been able to provide ongoing support to the area for a number of years. This has helped develop a range of strategic, operational, and tactical anit-poaching activities. The highest priority issues to address include local cross-border poaching of wildlife and the well-organised criminal poaching activities.
Support for improving operational command and control has been a major focus of activities in the area. This has included the construction and equipping of a new law enforcement control room. This room forms the heart of all anti-poaching operations and is where all activities are organized and coordinated. Support for other critical park management infrastructure, such as a new ration store and accommodation for the quick reaction patrol team, has also helped improve the efficiency and speed of anti-poaching unit deployments.
The structure of the antipoaching unit itself also has been supported through the recruitment and training of additional rangers (in both 2018 and in 2022). The improved structure has also allowed the diversification of the law enforcement approaches the unit can implement. This has included the creation of a quick reaction force, a canine unit, and, uniquely, a specialist tracking and interdiction team. The provision of both patrol vehicles to support deployments and patrol boats to enhance security along waterways has further increased the unit’s capacity.
Through sustained support to the APDS, the activities implemented under this project have helped contribute to an impressive 82% reduction in the poaching of forest elephants throughout the area. However, although this progress is encouraging it is equally fragile and cannot be taken for granted. Thanks to continued support from the EU, area managers have built partnerships with specialist training organizations, and now have a tailored program for the training area’s staff that can help ensure the progress made is built on in the years ahead.