Zakouma National Park is located in southern Chad, to the west of the town of Am Timan, straddling the Am Timan–Sarh road. The park covers a 3,000 km² section of a vast flat plain crossed by meandering seasonal watercourses, the larger of which are bordered by gallery forest. The vegetation is largely wooded savanna dominated by Combretum, Terminalia, Anogeissus and Leiocarpus spp., interspersed with patches of denser woodland. The park includes extensive, open grassy flood-plains, particularly in the south, which are inundated during the wet season. These plains cover 500 km² and are dominated by the grasses Vetiveria, Setaria and Paspalum spp. Average annual rainfall is 890 mm, falling in the period between late April and late October.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. To date, 226 species have been recorded from the park which include Circus macrourus and two species of the Sahel biome (see Table 2). The site is also said to hold large numbers of pelicans, but no systematic waterbird counts have been made.
Non-bird biodiversity: The following species of threatened mammal occur: Acinonyx jubatus (VU), Panthera leo (VU), Lycaon pictus (EN), Loxodonta africana (EN) and Gazella rufifrons (VU).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The area was originally protected as a Faunal Reserve in 1958, and was upgraded to a National Park in 1963. The park has received considerable foreign assistance since 1989 and has now been almost completely rehabilitated. The park is surrounded by the vast Bahr Salamat Faunal Reserve (20,600 km²) which, in theory, acts as a buffer zone, but does not have any status in the field. No major threats are currently known, although in the long term the issue of livestock intrusion remains to be addressed, as the ever-increasing number of pastoral wells continue to open up this relatively remote area. The park is currently benefiting from an EU-financed conservation project which includes regional planning. The distance of the park from the capital has, however, hampered the development of tourism, especially since Zakouma has to compete with the more accessible parks in northern Cameroon.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Zakouma National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2021.