Beyond grasslands and dense forests teeming with wildlife, verdant wetlands are found in the north of Upemba National Park. These wetlands are inaccessible on foot and take days to reach, yet they are home to the last remaining 200 savanna elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2017, Forgotten Parks Foundation (FPF), an Elephant Crisis Fund (ECF) grantee, has managed Upemba, which contains over 1,800 wildlife species, including lions, cheetahs, zebras, and buffalo. But Upemba’s wildlife isn’t alone in this paradise—roughly 100 armed rebels responsible for ivory poaching and illegal mining inhabit pockets of the park, standing between the remote elephant population and FPF’s rangers, who operate under difficult conditions at considerable risk. To increase staff safety and their ability to protect the elephants, FPF turned to the ECF.

Elephants in Upemba National Park.

Over the years, the ECF has helped with FPF’s operational costs and secured a range of vehicles for rangers to monitor elephants and respond to human-elephant conflict among Upemba’s communities. Without this support, FPF wouldn’t be able to patrol the park. But the rebels are a persistent, dangerous obstacle, killing nearly 20 Upemba staff in the last two decades and at least several elephants recently.

rangers Upemba

Forgotten Parks Foundation rangers on patrol in Upemba National Park.

This year, the ECF funded the purchase of an ultralight aircraft so FPF can conduct aerial patrols, support ground patrols, and monitor the remote elephant population more quickly and safely. Fuel, technical support, and a new hangar have also been funded. This aircraft will be game changing for FPF, who are committed to transforming Upemba into one of Africa’s greatest parks. With the ECF behind them, FPF is better equipped to protect Upemba’s last elephants on the ground and above.



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