|Wildlife Conservation Society
Once largely protected by its remoteness, new roads carved out of the forest as industrial logging expands into previously intact areas bordering the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park are increasingly placing this forest elephant stronghold at risk. In recent years the intensity and nature of poaching in the Nouabalé-Ndoki landscape has radically changed, with the increased presence of armed transboundary poaching groups in the area. To tackle the threats to Ndoki’s elephants, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in partnership with the Congolese government, has developed an integrated approach to law enforcement, combining intelligence-driven anti-poaching with support to the legal process for wildlife crime cases. The ECF has supported this work since 2015, providing funding for the setup of control rooms, vehicle control points, vehicles, ranger training, rapid response unit, and the implementation of Special Operations and Wildlife Crime Units. Support has also facilitated the improvement of the park’s radio and satellite communications system, a huge challenge in the area’s dense, humid forest, and the conversion of an ex-logging base into a new headquarters. In addition, following the unexpected and sudden suspension of funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in 2019 by the United States Department of the Interior for its Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment, which previously provided vital support for forest elephant conservation in Ndoki, WCS was left with a massive funding gap for Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park and the greater Ndoki-Likouala landscape. The ECF helped to fill this gap, funding core management and operational costs for the Ndoki-Likouala landscape. Although the threats remain high, more effective patrol coverage and professionalised law-enforcement capabilities have brought many notorious poaching ring-leaders and traffickers in the area to justice, and poaching within the park has decreased. The ECF has provided 10 grants for WCS’s work in Nouabalé-Ndoki, with one current active grant; this is funding satellite camps in the northern sector of the Park, digital HF ‘man-packs’ to allow better communication, and new field equipment.