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Steve Winter

Bio NatGeo Wildlife + Conservation Photojournalist + Speaker. Next @NatGeo Live! talk Nov 7th at The Playhouse Square Theatre, Cleveland, OH

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@stevewinterphoto @natgeo @africanparksnetwork Guards that are coming back from their 12 days in the field, protecting - 1884287889027411649

 image by Steve Winter (@stevewinterphoto) with caption : "@stevewinterphoto @natgeo @africanparksnetwork

Guards that are coming back from their 12 days in the field, protecting " - 1884287889027411649
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@stevewinterphoto @natgeo @africanparksnetwork Guards that are coming back from their 12 days in the field, protecting the park, meeting their friends or neighbors or family members that are also guards – getting ready to head out to the field. Communities protecting their park and all the animals!!! Zakouma National Park in Chad is one of the most remarkable stories about transformation. In 2010, African Parks, on invitation by the Chadian Government, signed a long-term agreement to manage Zakouma and stop the bloodshed. Our first step was to overhaul law enforcement, but it wasn’t for the faint of heart. In 2012, six of our rangers were gunned down execution-style during their morning prayers. But our rangers, with their indomitable spirits, didn’t give up. Because of their efforts and effective community work, only 24 known elephants have been lost to poaching since 2010. Along with providing law enforcement, we built ‘Elephant Schools’ for local communities, providing desks, blackboards and teachers’ salaries, helping more than 1,500 children get an education. We built airstrips, and VHF radios were installed so community members could contact our control room with information about any illegal activity. People were employed to help manage the park, making Zakouma one of the largest employers in the region. With law enforced and security reclaimed, tourists began to visit, delivering needed revenue back to the park and local communities. And then something miraculous happened. Elephants were able to be elephants once again, and for the first time in years, they began to breed and could raise their young. In early 2017, we counted 81 calves under the age of three. In 2011, we counted one. Elephants have now surpassed 527 individuals and are on the rise for the first time in a decade. We’ve come a long way since 2010. The story of Zakouma is of a park rising from the ashes and becoming an unlikely tale of redemption, for people and animals alike. Our work in Zakouma would not be possible without the support of our partners: The Republic of Chad, the EU, Foundation Segré and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to name a few.

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