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GIS Capacity Development in Dzanga Sangha, Central African Republic, 2018

William Ouellette

I had read a lot about the challenges of conservation in Africa ahead of the mission, but anti-poaching in the Dzanga Sangha Special Reserve turned out to be a whole other ball game, with its array of specific problems and challenges. I took from the experience at least as much as I have given, as it was my first serious experience in Conservation. Eye-opening all the way, and I am even saying that after my third visit to the continent. They were sitting on a gold mine of data which no one had seriously exploited before my arrival. In my short 45 days stay here, I did my best to teach the team how to make maps with QGIS for patrol briefing/debriefing purposes, with the support of spatial data layers generated through queries on the SMART database. They were instantly able to grasp the benefits of this information, which motivated them to learn how to produce these maps flawlessly.

If you want a truly unique wildlife experience in a really interesting cultural context, this place must be visited. They are struggling to get the tourist numbers up because of the apparent political instability of the country, but I can 100% vouch for the safety of the area. Don’t let the travel advice fool you and go visit, or volunteer, or apply at WWF, or donate through your organization and pay a visit to the park, you won’t regret it.

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