Asseged Bezabih (ELP 2021) | Community Development Program Director and Development Consultant, Zulla Parks Conservancy, Ethiopia
The Chebera Churchura National Park (CCNP) is a 1.2 thousand square kilometer national park in Ethiopia. It is known for its African Elephant Population, which houses about two-thirds of the elephants in the country. The area was inaccessible by the road until very recently, and its potential had not been recognized for a long time, only within the last decade was it declared a national park. Though the human population in the surrounding areas of the park is small, human-wildlife conflict is immense. This is exhibited in the form of crop damage and livestock attacks by elephants. With the establishment of the national park management structure and the subsequent reduction in elephant poaching, the elephant population has been increasing significantly, and so is human-wildlife conflict. The CCNP management office has been attempting to minimize conflict by keeping the elephants further away from villages. To this effect, the park office has been experimenting with a homemade organic chemical repellant, which is largely ineffective. The park office has been attempting to compensate for the damage inflicted by the wild animals by providing temporary employment opportunities to the frontline community members, engaging them in labor works on park road construction, firebreak line opening, and the likes. However, these efforts are far from satisfying to the community, and the park is seeking assistance to introduce methods to prevent elephants from going into villages and crop fields.
Zulla Parks LLC is a USA-based company that aims to develop and manage wildlife-protected areas, improve the livelihood of the surrounding communities, and provide joy to its visitors. With the recent startup of the Zulla Parks Hospitality Project in the Chebera Churchura National Park, the presence of Zulla Parks on the ground is boldly visible. As community development advisor of the organization, I have been conducting community surveys on the interaction of the surrounding community with the proposed wildlife designated areas, and the identification of improved community engagement in the management of and benefit-sharing from the protected area
Zulla Park is interested in working with the national park office in managing the wildlife-human conflict by introducing technical and/or mechanical measures to keep the elephants within the park territory. It is also interested in collaborating on methods to compensate communities by engaging them in community tourism ventures. To this effect, Zulla Parks welcomes technical and or any other support from national or international organizations and individuals.