Garamba National Park is 4,900km² of pure beauty, located in the Haut-Uélé district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The region is a biological treasure trove and as a result was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Here are nine fast facts on Garamba
1. Garamba is one of the oldest national parks in Africa! The DRC was colonised by Belgium and Garamba National Park was established in 1938 by Royal Decree, making it one of oldest conservation areas in Africa.
2. Garamba is home to a subspecies of giraffe known as the Congo giraffe. The Congo giraffe forms the symbol of the park as Garamba’s giraffes are the only known giraffe population in the DRC. In 2012 Fundación Biodiversidad sponsored the collaring of five giraffe for scientific research.
3. Sadly one of the collared giraffe was killed. The poachers kept the satellite collar and officials were able to track the collar over the border. The good news is the poachers were later apprehended by the South Sudanese authorities.
4. Did you know that it is speculated that the elephants that occur in Garamba are hybrids of the savannah and forest elephants?
5. On the darker side of Garamba’s history: In 1920 the Elephant Domestication Centre was created by Belgium colonial rule in Garamba where 100 elephants were trained to work in agricultural fields.
6. Coups, ceasefires, colonial wars and civil wars have plagued DRC’s wildlife and conservation areas, a reality for many African conservation areas. Although, with African Parks involvement from 2005, Garamba’s general biodiversity is on the rise!
7. Along with Southern Chad, the Central African Republic, Southwestern Sudan and Northwestern Uganda; Garamba was home to the northern white rhino. The park was one of the last strongholds of this subspecies of rhino in the late 1900s and early 2000s until they became regionally extinct. The last three wild northern white rhino reside in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
8. Garamba is home to the charismatic sausage tree. The sausage tree is one of Africa’s iconic trees – it has a large over-bearing fruit that is used to treat skin conditions as well as form a red dye used in traditional practices. A mature ‘sausage’ fruit can be up to 0.6m long and weigh a whopping 6.8kg. The blood-moon red flowers of this tree are also easy on the eye and their scent is attractive to many pollinators but its smell is not very appealing to humans.
9. Through African Parks community initiatives, 6,500 school children from 20 schools on the periphery of Garamba have been educated about the importance of their natural heritage and conservation via documentaries, environmental lessons and school outings to the park.