Zakouma National Park
Chad is 3 times the size of Califonia with a population of only 15 million.
At almost 1,200 square miles, Zakouma N.P.
is larger that the state of Rhode Island.
Of the 2,000 surviving in the wild,
it is estimated that 60% of these live in Zakouma National Park in Chad.
A first for us was seeing the “swarms” of the Red-billed Quelea,
the most numerous bird species on the planet.
The swarm flies down to the water surface for drinks.
An Elephant Never Forgets
The elephant population in Zakouma N.P. in Chad stopped breeding for an entire generation. Between 2002 and 2010, poachers killed 95% of the parks elephants. Almost 4000 eles were slaughtered for their ivory. Poachers, mostly from Sudan, on horseback with automatic weapons would often take out multiple family units at the same time. Camel trains would carry the blood tusks back across the border.
The ele population was estimated 4500 in the 90’s, from poaching that was down to 400.
Hundreds of thousands of these small weavers form clouds in the sky constantly creating various patterns.
As the cloud of birds flies over you, it sounds like a a strong loud wind.
Zakouma National Park was orginally formed in 1963
to protect the last 50 Kordofan giraffes in Chad.
A critically endangered sub-species of giraffe, the Kordofan had been brought to near extinction from poaching and habitat loss.
With conservation efforts that number is up to 2000.
The Kordofan is a bit smaller than the other species, and have lighter coloring and patterns on the legs.
In 2012, six of the park rangers were gunned down execution-style by poachers.
With the work of African Parks, poaching now has been largely controlled and the population is now estimated 560.
The elephant, is a thoughtful creature. They have stong family bonds and mourn their dead. The PTSD-like effect from the slaughter was for the elephants to stop breeding entirely. Perhaps not wanting to have young they couldn't protect.
What’s it take to get a drink.
The giraffe has a 20 pound heart to push blood all the way up its neck to keep the brain supplied. Giraffes have one of the highest blood pressures of any mammal, 280/180 mmHg
In their neck they have a complex pressure regulation system of vessels and valves called the “rete mirabile” that prevents blood from rushing into or from the brain on bending over to drink or raising back up. Prevents either a stroke putting head down or syncope raising back up.
Giraffes have a very tight, thick skin over their lower legs which maintains high pressure very similar to a pilot’s g-suit.