Odzala-Kokoua is an enormous region: 13.500 km2 – an area equivalent to three and a half thousand soccer fields – entirely covered in rainforest. As a world of green nearly impossible to penetrate this national park is one of the largest protected reserves of Central Africa.
Although these are the good news, the inhabitants of Odzala also have to face them as a huge challenge. How do you control such a large region? Odzala is not far from resembling paradise. Yet here too, illegal deforestation and poaching represent a significant threat. Forest elephants are on the top of the poachers’ hunting list. Odzala needs a strong team for the fight against poaching.
Two years ago the Odzala Kokoua-Foundation put African Parks in charge of the management of the National Park and created 130 employment opportunities. Up front: Eco-guards. They are on patrol in the jungle, following the tracks of the poachers and attempting to catch them. But that’s not enough. Odzala needs long-term solutions. The people need alternatives to the poaching-business.
40 Eco-Guards are regularly on a 22-day patrol in the huge national park. They look for and record any signs of poaching: traps, poachers’ camps. In the worst-case scenario the Eco-Guards come across the remains of carnage. In the past 6 months this was the case with six dead elephants. To merely be witness to the murder without having been able to prevent it is the greatest defeat of the heroes of Odzala.
15 men are on duty on the check points along the borders of the park - 15 men for thousands of kilometers of frontier area. These dimensions make it obvious: it is impossible to guard Odzala without a few gaps. The Eco-Guards are indispensable, but team Odzala needs more support - From you!
Additionally, there are two units of Eco-Monitors, one of which works on the familiarization of the animal to the human. The important factor: Presence. Peaceful presence. Another unit regularly controls the population of the animals. Every sighting is recorded and the data is transferred by GPS. The plan is to equip all the Eco-Guards with waterproof and robust cameras in order to post their accounts here. This will allow you to get a regular update from the experiences of the Eco-Guards.
Since the summer of 2012 the Eco-Guards have been equipped with small video cameras. The protectors of Odzala film their work, their daily routines: A raid in a poacher camp or a ranger breakfast in the temporary kitchen, and of course their encounters with the animals. So that you can take part in their duties at any time.
The Eco-Guards are reporting straight from Odzala-Kokoua – a unique project. Markus Strobel, manager of the Munich Film Production Tango Film GmbH, came up with this idea. During some of his many visits in Odzala he went through a short training in camera work, sound, and direction with his new “colleagues” – the results are impressive, and can be seen here, on this site.