A discussion on tourism in Cameroon remains incomplete without mention of the name ‘Waza National Park’. This is because of a combination of the park’s natural beauty and the fact that it is home to some of the world’s most beautiful animals.
Situated in the country’s Far North Region, the tourist destination hitherto attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists yearly.
From the time it went operational in the 1960s, Waza park which encompasses an area of 660 square miles — has attracted millions of tourists from different parts of the world.
One of Waza Park’s remarkable qualities is its strategic location; not far from the Lake Chad basin which led to its recognition by UNESCO in 1979.
Situated in Logone and Chari Division, Far North Region of Cameroon where access to quality jobs is a luxury, Waza has been a veritable source of income to hundreds of young people in the locality.
At the foot of the mountain, close to Waza Park, camping sites which served as lodging for visitors have also been a good generator of economic activity.
In fact, the private residence of Cameroon’s first and former president, Ahmadou Ahidjo was situated 200 meters from the reserve. “He could watch the beautiful scenery and animals from there. He usually spent his time there, when he visited the region,” a local told the MMI reporter who visited Waza Park.
For nearly one decade, Waza Park has become a ghost of its former self.
The park is not able to receive up to one-quarter of the number of tourists which visited annually.
“First tour guides who used to assist tourists are now old, and many others dead. The few visitors who show up barely have those to guide them,” said our reporter.
Boko Haram crumble Waza Park
Since 2014, the Waza National Park has been paralyzed by repeated attacks by members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect.
Barely a year after the start of the Boko Haram war, the locality of Waza was noted as a red zone, prohibiting foreigners from visiting the giant Waza park.
Worst still, the youths of this neighbourhood lost a vital source of employment as a result of the incursion of these unwanted elements:
“The youths began losing hope as a result of the Boko Haram war. Many of these youths thronged to other parts of Maroua to find refuge and be out of harm’s way,” our reporter added.
As a result, Waza park though known for its touristic beauty has turned into a militarized zone.
By Amina Hilda