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Deep in the heart of Africa, Chad's Zakouma National Park is an oasis of sanctuary for the continent's surviving elephants — the last place on earth where more than a thousand can be found in one herd. Protected by armed guards, the park is a gem of abundance and diversity.

Yet just outside its borders, poachers lie in wait for the animals. When the perennial rains arrive, the elephants move toward better forage outside the park's perimeter, and into the poachers' hands. The hunters kill them for their ivory tusks — which fetch high prices on the black market — and leave the carcasses intact, apart from the gaping holes where the tusks once were.

Conservationist J. Michael Fay and National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols traveled to Zakouma during the wet season in 2006, documenting its wonders, and discovering the delicate nature of this rare refuge.

Published: July 10, 2007


Photography: Michael Nichols / National Geographic Photographer
Video: J. Michael Fay / Conservationist, Wildlife Conservation Society; Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
Picture Editing: Kathy Moran / NGM Photo Editor
General Management: Lisa Hungness
Production Coordination/Interview: Amanda MacEvitt / Director of Content Development, NGM New Media
J. Michael Fay interview: Keene Haywood / Producer, NGM New Media
Video Editing: Angela Sanders / Project Coordinator, Research Conservation and Exploration Group
Image Coordination: Jenna Pirog / Photo Coordinator
Map Art: Oliver Uberti, Marguerite B. Hunsiker, James E. McClelland, Jr., Mariel Furlong / NGM Maps
Producer: Pamela Chen
Graphics Package: Tim Klimowicz
Executive Producer: Brian Storm
Translation: Portuguese: Leandro Badalotti, Israel Krindges

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