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article imageDarkest, Violent Chad Becomes The Must See For The Roving Traveller

By Michelle Duffy     Jun 2, 2007 in Travel
It is country where tourists fear to tread, yet war torn Chad is becoming strangely magnetic to the rambling traveller
Chad is better known in news headlines for it's conflicts, killings and desperately shadowed future, yet there is something alluring about the danger of not just the human banter but the baron wilderness which goes hand in hand with it.
So its grows popular by the day. Foreign visitors now flock to the country just wilder beast in search of water holes and it is all because of one particular feature - Zakouma National Park.
This land of the free, so long as it walks with four paws is a far leap from the terror which reigns the streets of the east. It sits comfortably away in the southern part of the country and is now delighting in it's incredible ability to attract the alternative tourist.
If you are keen to see as many elephants wondering free as if looking for Virginia McKenna, then this is the place for you. So far, it will see many tourists drift in to Chad in the hope to keep it remote and therefore, fashionable. By the time it's tourism is on a par with Malaga, then alas, it's fame and fortune will no longer to that appealing.
The giant grey washed creatures, during the rain season will flock to the park in their thousands. They are, the main attraction at the park. Hardly ever in the rest of the world, will you see as many elephants in one place.
Not just a fair distance away by flight, it will also make you think about booking a skiing holiday next year after the 11 hour spine shaking drive across the roughest terrain, God could ever have made. On that day, he was in a scratchy mood.
So, so long as it remains as they say, 'virgin territory' you can be sure to see everything that was here before the human race imploded the country. The 3,000 square kilometre park will carry you off into a world of your own, and perhaps even let you think that you could well survive okay if the rest of the world's population was wiped out momentarily.
Luis Arranz, is one of the staff at the park and says that it is not at all unusual to only have two or three people in the park at any one time. The Spaniard says that it still is because the country's violent reputation has a lot to do with the lack of crowds. However, that will not last a life time.
He says,
"It's a big problem because there are lots of Europeans who've only read about war and Darfur spreading into Chad, so people don't think of coming here for their holiday. But recently people have started to talk about Zakouma. If the situation stays calm, I think people will continue coming."
Yet although this country is steeped in beauty in it's wildest sense, Chad still is a very violent country. Political clashes going back many decades have given the place a very darker shade of black over the years and the elephants are no exception to the terror.
They are still big business int he park and if it was only the tourists dipping their hands into their pockets it wouldn't be so bad, however, the ivory trade is still thriving here and the elephants, although in their herds, are still under threat from man.
They have no ban here and in the last year, over 200 have been killed for their tusks. Poachers roam free amongst the animals and kill what ever they please for money. It is not unusual for great groups of men with guns to ride out on horseback over the plains in search for their loot. The park can do very little to hold them back. There are, however, 80 staff who are employed to keep the poachers out of the park, but to no avail.
Three staff have been shot already this year by over keen poachers. Much of Africa does not have the ban and Nicolai Tailoua, who works in the park as one of the anti poaching team tells us of the fight on their hands to save the elephants.
"It's a dangerous life but one we've accepted. We've chosen this fight and will continue to the end."
The poaching has been made legal due to trade demand to Japan in ivory. Many African countries support the trade as it means money in their developing world.
So Chad remains war torn, just in the south, its the increasing war between elephant and man....
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