C.A.R. Tourism Woes: Nature reserve threatened by ongoing political conflict

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In the Central African Republic, a protected game reserve is bearing the brunt of the ongoing conflict.

Dzanga-Sangha, a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to numerous species of wild animals, including more than 3,000 forest elephants.

Run by the Central African Republic government, with support from the World Wide Fund for Nature, it was once teeming with tourists.

The park has however now been left idle and vulnerable to the ongoing militia clashes, and is now seeing a steep decline in its tourists numbers.

The C.A.R. has been in turmoil since 2013, as Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka militia fight for control.

Since the eruption of the war, many of Bayanga’s residents, most of who depend on tourism, have seen a downfall in economic activity there, with opportunities getting scarce by the day.

“We are very safe here. Unfortunately after the war and even before the war, there was a lot of security warnings, but the trouble has never really affected the southern part of the country. But it affected tourists badly, tourism was very badly affected,” researcher Fransisca Kassidi said.

The recent spike in violence has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, with nearly 100 thousand displaced in the past month alone.

The United Nations human rights chief Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein has called for a probe into the killings, and is urging talks to end the crisis.

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