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Everything posted by jeremie

  1. You got fantastic raptor shots! I also fond of the couple of nilgai shots and the blackbuck at sunset! Lovely
  2. Some authors still consider that Ethiopia is home to more than 1000 lions. I think this is an overestimate. Considering that Awash-Ali Deghe is the third lion stronghold of the country after Omo and Gambela regions, it seems clear that the real population is largely lower than this poor guess estimate. The Abyssinian country lacks of wildlife systematic surveys and its protected areas are very poorly management, thus this situation should get worse in the following decade. The fact that APN was expulsed out of the Gambela project after investing so much energy and money on it clearly shows the lack of interest Ethiopia has for its network of protected areas. There is a 2014 mammal watching report stating some lion indirect evidences from Awash and Ali Deghe here: reports/MDB Ethiopia 2014.pdf I feel extremely worried to see that the last lions sightings on Mammalwatching for Ethiopia were in the Gera forest and in the Harenna forest South to Bale Mountain National Park... reports/JvG Ethiopia 2015 full.pdf
  3. I have juste received a quotation from Loango Lodge and further explanation about the gorilla project. I have attached the program to this post. It is about 2150 euros per person on a base of 2 pax for 5 nights for the 2018 rainy season. This includes transport to Tassi Camp, aerial transport from Libreville to Port Gentil (Way in and out), transport between Port Gentil and Loango Lodge, one gorilla permit and safari at 500 USD per person. I think it might be very nice to add one more day on the Akaka river. The Loango primate project was launched in 2005 by the Max Planck Institute. They have finish the habituation project of a family of 17 western lowland gorillas in June 2016 and are currently working on a Chimps habituation project there too. It really seems that Loango could shortly compete with places like Dzangha Sangha or Odzala. It is more convenient for pricing and transport (even if it is long to get to Loango) It is easiy to get the visa to Gabon with a e-visa system. Landscapes are very different from those seen in Mbeli an (Nouabele Ndoki), Odazala and Dzangha Sangha), which abundant wildlife to be seen by boat or by jeep in the mixes savanna forest landscape. Hope that someone will motivate to visit the place like @Inyathi did! Microsoft Word - LOANGO (rain) 5 day 4 nigh Packag-ROAD transf.docx.pdf
  4. These rebels... They will never let Eastern Congo in peace... Same rebel group called Mai Mai killed one ranger in Virunga National Park, who was asigned to the only place of the park where survive eastern lowland gorillas.
  5. Thanks @Jochen, hope this kind of events can help in the funding of rhino monitoring and "horn chipping". Very interesting experience indeed.
  6. I really appreciate this TR!!! This is great that you visited Guassa, this clearly helped this small, low funded, conservation project. What a fantastic couple of sightings in Awash!!!
  7. @inyathi: it is indeed a great news! I am currently asking for a quotation to Loango Lodge, I will let you know the lodges prices and activities ( this depends on the rainy and dry season). The gorilla permit in Uganda is still 750 USD and in Kahuzi Biega and Virunga is only 450 USD. Loango is easier to get to compared to Odzala or Nouabale Ndoki in Congo, and safer than Dzangha Sanga. I would love to visit there 4 different places one day... Long offers very different landscapes compared to Sangha Trinational Protected Area or Odzala, with beaches, vast wetlands and lagoons, and of course a very different wildlife. There also were lions and wild dogs around Loango in the past, same for Odzala. There are still spotted hyenas at Odzala, but none in Gabon as far as I understand. The Mikeno gorilla habituation closed years ago in Lope National Park, there are still guides working there for the very few tourists visiting the place, where mandrills can be seen. The other place that can be considered is Lekedi Park, where the former Comilog manganese mine as located. It is now a private park with gorillas and chimps released in small islands, wild mandrills with GPS and of course there are some wild chimps (not sure if there are wild gorillas there). In lekedi do not expect something very wild as they have some enclosures in a small area of the property where river hogs and buffaloes can be seen very closely. There is also the Japonese project in Mbeli Bai in Moukalaba Dodou, I remember that Steppes Travel was offering gorillas safari there last year. Bateke Plateau East to Franceville is another area of interest for its landscapes. In Ivindo Park apart from Langoué Bai which was still closed last year for tourists, there are the impressive Kongoué Falls where elephants are easily seen. There is also another bay very interesting for elephants. Bongo can only be seen in Minkebe National Park that is completely closed to tourists, so Dzangha Sangha is the place to see this marvelous antelope right now. Gabon really need to receive tourists to secure its biodiversity conservation strategy (and funding), infrastructure is still very poor but it is the best conserved country in all Central Africa. I am sure that if tourists will go there the infrastructure will follow. Oil production is going down there last years so they should be more and more interested in the tourism industry. I will go to Gabon in late 2018 or 2019 and will share my experiences with you!
  8. Thank you very much for sharing. This survey shows high large predator concentration. This is great to see that the Mana Pools lion population is stable inside the park.
  9. I have recently read an article about fishing cat survey in Cambodia, which led me to this symposium final presentation, detailing the last information available about this little known felid from Asia. The fishing cat is known to live in coastland and inland wetlands. It is found in the Ganga delta, the Terai Arc in the Indian subcontinent. More research is needed in Vietnam and Java to review its presence. Wetland should be urgently protected to ensure this felid correct habitat protection. I would no have expected conflict with humans, but some of the presentation stress on intense conflict in West Bengal for instance.
  10. Here are the papers about the first snow leopard survey conducted in Bhutan and published in 2016: This is very exciting! There is also a WWF publication about the specific survey conducted in Wangchuk Centenial National Park, Bhutan's largest protected area located in the North of the himalayan kingdom:
  11. Bhutan is a little known country enclaved between India and Tibet. This small himalayan nation has a strong comitment to conserve its natural heritage. 70% of its territory is currently covered by forests, the goal to maintain a cover on 60% of its territory was written in its constitution. 51% of Bhutan land is covered by protected areas. It is home by more than 100 tigers, some of them located at 4200 masl. The first snow leopard nation census ever made in the world was led in Bhutan in 2016, resulting in an estimated 100 snow leopards for the country. The country comited to increase the snow leopard population by 2022 and even fixed a goal to increase its tiger population by 20% by 2022. To ensure sustainability of this heritage, it can rely on nationional and external funds. And it decided to elaborate a transitional fund that woud supply the gap in its funding to ensure all the activities needed to achieve its goals. Here are the Bhutan for Life project website and prospectus:
  12. If you are interested to get more information about the Ennedi region, here is the link from the UNESCO website of the World Heritage Site proposal the Chadian authorities transmitted to the UNESCO in 2015 (in French):
  13. Interview with Rocco Rava, Director of Chad’s proposed Ennedi Protected Area and one of the greatest experts on Northern Chad. Ennedi is a proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site. * I would like to thank @@inyathi for his great contribution to this interview. Rocco, How long have you been working in Chad in the tourism industry before leading the African Parks mission in the Ennedi? I first went to Chad 25 years ago in 1992 with our family tourism agency to the Tibesti Mountains, this was very different to the mission I’m now conducting with African Parks. It all started in the seventies when my father started to guide tourist groups in the Sahara. He was a doctor and a professional mountain guide with a deep fascination for nature. He first went to Algeria and then started to establish a base in Niger from which to lead groups into the Central Sahara in time he became one of the Sahara’s leading expeditions guides. Chad was then totally unknown having been closed to tourism since independence for historical reasons. As the highest mountain range in the Sahara Tibesti held a strong attraction for adventurers, in 1992 we led the first expedition there with a Team of Touaregs from Niger. In 1993 we established our first base in N’Djamena Ennedi is one of the most visited places in the Southern Sahara. Could you describe Ennedi and what makes it such a special place for tourists? Chad is currently the only Saharan destination which is still safe for tourists to visit; all of the other Sahelo-Saharan nations are facing complex security issues. Compared to Tibesti, Ennedi is quite easy to get to as it is closer to N’Djamena. The Ennedi has unique characteristics compared to the region’s other five mountain ranges in terms of its landscapes, its wealth of fauna and flora and its human inhabitants. In terms of biodiversity it is the only Saharan range that does not possess any species of Mediterranean flora and has very little endemism. There are two main reasons for the exceptional biodiversity. On the one hand, its geographical position with foothills located in the path of the trade winds that bring rain to the region. On the other hand the Ennedi is composed of permeable sedimentary sandstone rocks. These two factors explain the unusual humidity for somewhere of this latitude, permanent water springs make Ennedi one of the most important water catchments in this arid region. It lies at the crossroads of old commercial and colonial roads that have crossed the Sahara through the centuries, L’eau c’est la vie, water is life. What are the main animal species still found in the Ennedi? Are there any Saharan cheetahs, leopards or wild dogs still present in the area? There have been no studies on the wildlife of the region; in July African Parks will carry out the first scientific survey of the wildlife in Ennedi to get a better idea of what wildlife remains. However there’s no doubt that there is still an impressive variety of wildlife typical of this Sahelo-Saharan ecosystem. Cheetahs are very hard to spot but they are still present, I have once seen a female, and quite a few times I’ve found their footprints and on occasion a dead cheetah killed by nomads. Wild dogs were last reported in the seventies. With regard to leopards it’s difficult to say, I’ve never heard anything about these animals from local people. The last lions in the north of Chad were killed in 1932 about 350 kilometres north of Ennedi. The Ennedi used to be a real Eden but decades of wars with Libya and rebellions took their toll on the wildlife, but wildlife is still present. The wildlife suffered mainly from the proliferation of guns in the region and hunting for bushmeat to feed the soldiers. There is also some pressure on the wildlife due to competition with domestic cattle in some areas. There used to be scimitar-horned oryx and addax grazing in the wadis east and west of the plateau but these animals are gone now, in Chad addax are now entirely restricted to Eguey-Bodele close to the frontier with Niger, and the oryx became completely extinct in the wild. Species that are still present include dorcas gazelles, Barbary sheep, crocodiles, striped hyena, serval, ratel (honey badger), patas monkeys and olive baboons. What was Ennedi like a century ago? We don’t have any solid data concerning the climate and the rains from the beginning of the 20th century. It doesn’t seem that the climate has changed much through the last century; the dramatic decline in the area’s wildlife is entirely a result of the proliferation of firearms in the sixties and seventies. On the plateau Barbary sheep, dorcas gazelles and cheetahs occurred at much higher densities than today, and scimitar-horned oryx, addax, cheetahs and red-necked ostriches could still be found in the wadis to the east and west of the plateau. Where are the last strongholds for cheetahs and wild dogs in Chad and the Sahelo-Saharan region? The last viable cheetah population in the Saharan region seems to be in Termit, Eastern Niger and in Northern Hoggar Algeria. A picture from the Tedefest region taken with a camera trap was published last year. Cheetahs used to live in the Aïr region of Northern Niger but no information is available today. The last report of cheetahs in Southern Ennedi dates from 1962. In Chad some wild dogs persist around Zakouma National Park and cheetahs were seen inside the park in 2016. What led African Parks NGO to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chadian government in order to survey the Ennedi and create a vast protected area in this region? We first understood the unique value of the Ennedi’s fragile ecosystem during our first mission to the area in 2005 conducted with the Saharan Conservation Fund (SCF) and the Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group (SSIG). Jean Marc Froment who is currently working with APN was part of the team. Humans have always lived in the Ennedi through the ages, evidence can be found in the many archaeological sites and the continuous presence of the semi-nomadic Toubou people. The establishment of a protected area that excluded these people would be a complete failure, so the area won’t become a national park as under this category of protection continued human presence would not be permitted. We are thus opting for a category that would protect both the cultural and natural wonders of the area. African Parks is keen to fulfil the challenge of creating a vast protected area within the Sahelo-Saharan ecosystem in what is a truly pioneering initiative. Our project is based on four guidelines: archaeological heritage, relations with local Toubou communities, wildlife and tourism. We want the local comunities to be involved in all the activities of the protected area, from which they will be the most important actors as a means of bringing development. Between the Ennedi and Zakouma African Parks hopes to create a pioneering tourism product which doesn’t currently exist in Africa, The Ennedi offers spectacular and diverse landscapes, a unique biodiversity and close encounters with the local Toubou people. Wildlife biodiversity is very high for Sahelo-Saharan ecosystems, the Saharan crocodile found in the Guelta d’Archei is a real living fossil, but this will not be the main focus for tourism. In contrast, Zakouma is one of the last wildernesses of Central Africa that offers premiere game viewing, but its landscapes are pretty monotonous. Our hope is that by combining the Ennedi with Zakouma we can offer tourists an extraordinary and very diverse experience. Is the Chadian government fully committed to supporting your work? What is the local community’s attitude towards the creation of a protected area? The support from the Chadian authorities is very strong. Work with the communities is long but making progress. It is actually quite difficult to explain the project to the nomads. Nomads are quite pragmatic and individualist, far from the stereotypes. We try to explain our approach focusing on the sustainability of our project, as the nomads depend on nature for their survival. Protecting native animals will create local jobs and small businesses for local communities. They will be important actors in the management of the protected area, some will be recruited as rangers to ensure the protection of the park and the conservancies, there will be one representing each of the conservancies. We are taking into account issues with domestic animals and are working to limit the size of the herds, to ensure access to water and education. We do not aim to replace the government’s obligations in terms of education, we will rather insist on the inclusion of nature education to create a consciousness of nature and the need for conservation in the next generations. Local communities don’t have big herds causing over-grazing. The large herds generally belong to prominent rich members of the government or the army who are paying nomads to take care for their cattle and are responsible for drilling wells inside the desert. This phenomenon is not significant in the region; however, it is an issue at a national scale. There are an estimated 94 to 120 million domestic animals which is a lot compared to the population. Unquestionably the government will have to take action, because this generates security issues and money laundering. We are also benefiting from a local belief, that the abundance of native wildlife will ensure good rains, and thus is good for cattle, as it means there is sufficient grass and water for their survival. This is the product of the strong droughts that occurred in the end of the last century. People are also protecting the crocodiles of the Guelta d’Archei, because they believe that if the crocodiles vanish the spring will dry up. What are the goals of the surveys you are leading? Are you carrying out specific wildlife surveys? Did you manage to get some estimation of the densities of key wildlife species? As said before, we will be leading a mission with our partner the Saharan Conservation Fund next July, to update data about wildlife. We hope to make further collaborations with the SCF in the future. At the end of February 2016 a survey mission in collaboration with Pier Paolo Rossi took place in the Fada region in search of rock art sites. Pier Paolo Rossi says: In terms of biodiversity, the Sahara Conservation Fund does not include the Ennedi on the list of their top priorities. Why does APN focus on Ennedi instead of other significant places such as the Tibesti, OROA, Eguey or Manga areas which are considered to be the last stronghold for critically endangered antelopes in Chad? There are big differences between the objectives of APN and SCF. SCF mainly focuses on antelope species, more particularly on dorcas and dama gazelles, scimitar-horned oryx and addax. The absence of these three last species from the plateau explains why SCF is absent from this region. Another explanation is that John Newby, current SCF director and co-founder, had been working in the eighties in OROA, and didn’t really know the Ennedi What have been your major breakthroughs so far? A good deal of data was obtained from the records of my previous expeditions through the region. On our last expedition carried out in February-march 2016, we have been exploring by camels a remote and unknown region located in the Northern Ennedi, which doesn’t have any tracks. It appeared to be a remarkable place for Barbary sheep. We also made important archaeological discoveries. However, an important part of our work until now has focused on working with local communities to support the creation of the protected area. What are the main threats to wildlife in the region? The main threats are unsustainable hunting and poaching, principally people coming from nearby Sudan to hunt Barbary sheep; their impact however is not significant. How many people live on the plateau and who are they? Nomads living in Northern Chad belong to the Toubou or Gorane people. Their society is centred on the clan. The Toubous living in the Tibesti region are called Teda, while the ones inhabiting the Ennedi are called the Daza. If closely related, their languages are different. The Toubous breed camels, sheep and goats. On the Southern fringes of the plateau, in the Sahelian ecosystem, live cow herders called the Bideyat and the Zaghawas. There are an estimated 175,000 people from a 2009 census in the Ennedi province, which is much larger area than the plateau. Are there any commercial roads crossing the region? There are no roads crossing the Ennedi that could be used by poachers, only small tracks used by locals in some parts of the region. Roads used for illegal activities cross the North of the country and go on through Niger. In 2005, the conflict in Darfur led to an increase in poaching for dorcas gazelles, but this is not the case anymore. Is there any risk that terrorists could expand into Northern Chad from neighbouring Libya or Niger? Currently terrorism is fortunately absent from the North of Chad. This can be explained by the strength of the Chadian Army, which is probably one of the strongest in Africa. They have great control of the territory, Islamic fundamentalism is strictly controlled. These factors generate security in the North of the country. However, the demise of Colonel Gaddafi created significant insecurity in the whole of the Sahara. Decades of war in Chad have nevertheless generated a feeling of attachment to the country. Unlike the Touaregs in Northern Mali, the Toubou have achieved power in Chad in the eighties, they feel that they are the masters of their territory and do not feel that they are marginalised by the government. They don’t allow any interference in their territory and only apply the laws they choose. They are always looking after their own economic interests. What is the attitude of the local people towards wildlife? Are there any cases of poaching of dorcas or other species? Are cheetahs a problem for nomads? Poaching is now limited in the region, it focuses primarily on Barbary sheep and dorcas gazelles. It was harder to spot gazelles in the past; so we are now seeing the positive effects of the anti-poaching laws introduced at the beginning of the millennium. There are some conflicts with striped hyenas that prey on sheep, goats and camel calves. Conflicts with cheetahs are virtually nonexistent. In one APN newsletter it was reported that 4 red-necked ostriches were confiscated and then released in the region. What is the current situation and what is your plan for this species? SCF is supporting a breeding centre for this species in Niger but it seems quite hard to get results. The first translocation was largely supported by the government, which was in charge of the transport of the animals. A small enclosure was built 5 km south of Fada. Another enclosure is under construction. The animals laid some eggs but they are not incubating them. We aim to bring further animals in as soon as we get the opportunity. We receive the support and advice of important vets in Africa and ostrich breeders from South Africa. What is APN’s business plan and strategy for the following years? We are now working on the draft management and business plan for the future protected area. We have a long term vision for the Ennedi, is it without doubt a large-scale project. We are thinking of reintroducing key species to the region. Dorcas gazelles are definitely still viable, as are Barbary sheep. We aim to reintroduce the red-necked ostrich in the region; this process will be based on breeding farms on the site. We are also considering the reintroduction of scimitar-horned oryx in the Western part of the area under protection. Regarding cheetahs, we will consider any reinforcement plans once the reserve has been established and the community’s involvement is well structured. Following your surveying of the area do you know what the proposed Ennedi protected area will look like? The proposed protected area will have an area under protection of approximately 26,000 km²; it will be a natural and cultural protected area. About 9,000 km² West to plateau will be included in the park. Our protected area will focus on the better known Western side of the Ennedi, as we would need further information about the Eastern side to set up a project there. Surveys will be led in this area but considering the size of the region it is wiser to limit the size of the park, this will mean that we can achieve better results from our anti-poaching operations. A larger area of 40.000 km² including the whole Ennedi plateau is currently in the process of be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we share the same vision. The protected area will be divided into community “conservancies”, where local communities are currently living, and strict protected areas where consumptive activities will not be tolerated. Is APN supporting the scimitar horned-oryx reintroduction project in OROA, Central Chad? We have very good relations with SCF; we collaborated last year with their mission in Manga. They will lead our wildlife survey in the Ennedi next July. We share the same vision and hope to cooperate in the future with our conservation projects in Northern Chad. But we are neither partners nor actors in this project. Has trophy hunting any role to play in the plan of the proposed protected area, more particularly concerning Barbary sheeps? It’s too early to answer this question at this stage of the mission. With the last depressing news published by the Saharan Conservation Fund, about Termit Addax population collapse, it appears that the last viable but fragile population occurs now in Eguey-Bodele. Is there some plans to boost this population or to reintroduce this species to OROA? There is currently no plan to boost addax populations in Eguey, and OROA focuses on the oryx project. All images courtesy and copyright Rocco Rava. The views expressed therein are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Safaritalk.
  14. Loango Lodge opened last the gorilla habituation project to tourism with a group of 18 lowland gorillas which are fully habituated. If someone is interested to discover Gabon and gorillas elsewhere than in Bwindi/Virunga...
  15. The Limpopo Transfrontier Carnivore Project published in july an article on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park website I find really exciting! The Andersens are a couple of researchers focusing on predators within the Mozambican side of the tranfrontier park. If they expected to see very few animals, they findings are far better than what they expected!!! If the Limpopo National Park is full of cattle and illegal settlers, they found a significant population of predators: They also looked in the greater area of the tranfrontier park and have really nice findings from Bahine National Park! The website of the project is:
  16. Same projects alerts the Limpopo Park and the Mozambican authorities of a massive lion poaching catastrophe in Limpopo park. It seems that after elephants and rhinos, wildlife traffic never ends in this country. I am sometime impressed by some efforts for conservation in Mozambique, and sometimes very worried about news like these ones. It seems that only tourism will help to reduce these ilegal traffics...
  17. Hi ST! I have just seen the following trip from a Spanish TO. I am very impressed by the prices they offer. This includes short safari in Kalahari, Torra conservancy safari, Etosha, Okavango safaris in canoa and Chobe in 4x4. It is also included flights of the Namib in aircraft, Damaraland rhino safari with Wilderness in Torra Conservancy, Visit of Fish Canyon, A flight over the Okavango Delta, and a helicopter flight over the Victoria falls. The price is around 4000 euros with the international flights. As a photographer I would obviously prefer a 4x4, but the point is that this includes a guide which would not be the case if I travel in self drive, excellent Wilderness lodges in many places. Also I see that the safaris in the parks are shorter than usual, but this seems logical if considered that it is a 28 days trip from Cap Town to Victorial Falls. I don't know if they consider 4x4 in Etosha which would be much better fro photography because these trucks are clearly not appropriate for photographic safaris...
  18. On SCF Facebook account, it can be seen the first pictures of scimitar-horned oryx reintroduced in Chad. More news to come soon... I am trying since a while to get an interview from John Newby, who is the current director of the SCG association who played a considerable role in this project.
  19. Pendjari Business Plan I have found many different sources dealing with the park budget, earnings and expenses. I will refer only to two different sources because things seem confused with the different projects. We have to separate the budget to run the park activities according to the Management Plan activities, and the extra funding coming from the projects. Some of the activities realized by the projects in fact do not have nothing to do with the park operation activities. I will then take for main source the park business plan for the 2007-2011 period (second edition): The park needs about $ 425.000 USD per year (or equivalent to 90 USD/km2), without taking into account special projects and programs from international donors. This budget consideres 25 rangers on the ground to ensure law enforcement activities (1 man for 200 km2). This budget goes to the administration of the park which include salaries (59%), law enforcement (23%), infrastructure maintenance and construction (9%), wildlife monitoring (4%) and marketing (5%). The park revenues are principally originated from photographic tourism (35%) and trophy hunting (54%) activities, with 85.000 euros and 156.000 euros respectively. These revenues have to be shared between the local communities (AVIGREFF) and the CENEGREFF General Direction. Between 2007 and 2011, about 23% of the park revenues went to the General Direction, 19% to AVIGREFF (equivalent to 30% of the trophy hunting revenues) and only 58% remains to the park. The park incomes provided from the park revenues (34%), the Benin subventions (31%) and the International donors (35%). The park is thus far from being self-sufficient. Tourists increases slowly from 2001 to 2006 and then jumped in 2006 to reach 9000 tourists per year in 2011. This number then dropped dow because of the French military intervention in Mali principally and is around 7000 now. Revenues from trophy hunting are stable so it seems that the park will need to promote tourism activities to increase its total revenues. Hence there is a gap in the budget that was supplied by international donors in the 2000's. For this reason, it was decided to establish a trust fund that would replace the international donors. This trust fund was established in 2012 and as far as I understand started to operate in 2015. It is about 24 MUSD and should gives a little bit less than 1 MUSD per year, to be divided between W, Arly and Pendjari. The FSOA administrates the fund, further information is available here: Under ECOPAS and PAPE, the number of personal dedicated to law enforcement obviously increased. For instance, there were 79 persons (40 rangers) for W Benin, 71 (50 rangers) W burkina, 44 (13 rangers) W Niger during ECOPAS. I an looking again to find the number of rangers under PAPE in Pendjari but I do not find it again. Just know that APN will recruit 30 more rangers before the end of the year. I will finish with a very long quote from Henschel (2016) which resumes well the situation in Pendjari and WAP, and stresses the limits of the current budget.
  20. Since African Parks took the management of Pendjari National Park, Benin, on 30th of May 2017, I have been reading a lot about the vast and underknown WAP complex, a large wilderness complex shared between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. We are usually more used with Austral and Eastern Africa safari destinations than Central and West Africa national parks and we know nearly nothing concerning these West destinations. All started when @Paolo kindly sent me a French aerial survey of the park. I then understood why all my web resaerches in English were worthless. In these countries the oficial language is French so the big majority of the scientific papers and management documents of the WAP are all in French! Pendjari National Park is a protected area located in Northern benin, at the frontier with Burkina Faseo. It is 2750 km2 national park inside a larger ecosystem including hunting blocks declared by Unesco as 5000 km2 biosphere reserve in 1986. The vegetation kind covering the area is called the Sudanian Savanna, which lies between the Guinean savanna (to the South) and the sahalian savana (to hte North). The productivity of this dense savanna is less than in Eastern and Southern Africa, which reason why the density of wildlife do not reach the levels we can find in the famous national parks of East Africa. The park was named because of the Pendjari river which marks the boundary between Burkina and Benin, and delimits the Northern limit of the park. The Atakora range is located South to the park and offers impresive landscapes with high cliffs and typical Somba villages. The Mekrou is another perennial river West of the Park that delimits the frontier between Benin, Burkina and Niger further to the East. The Pendjari river belongs to the Volta basin while the Mekrou belongs to the Niger basin. Pendjari is one of the protected areas created in 1954 under the French Colonial Administration. With the independance of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, the area was divided in several smaller entities. This 30.000 km2 larger area is called WAP for W-Arly-Pendjari and even sometimes WAPOK if the Oti Keran protected areas of Togo are included. WAP is the most important protected area of West Africa along with Niokolo Koba (NK) in Senegal and Comoé in Ivory Coast. Contrary to these two last areas, the WAP complex is still in good shape. Niokolo Koba and Comoé large game populations have suffered a steep decline because of illegal poaching, livestock encroachment, poor management and lack of funds. Even if NK and Comoé are world heritage sites, they did not receive the same atention by international partners than the WAP complex, this explains why WAP has always received better funding to put in place adequate management to conserve the wilderness. Well, as said before, WAP is composed of several protected areas. In Benin, the Pendjari National Park along with the huge Pendjari Hunting reserve (sub-divided into Batia and Porga hunting blocks) and the smaller Konkombri Hunting Reserve, sometimes also called Atakora game reserve (if included Mekrou Hunting reserve, but belonging to the W Park). All these protected areas are protected as a Biosphere Reserve as sais before. Reference: To the Nort-East of the country, the W National Park is a 5000 km2 protected area located South to the Mekrou river. The Djona Hunting reserve and the Mekrou Hunting reserves respectively lie to the South and to the East of the park. In Niger, The W National Park Niger was declared in 1996 as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. It is named by the very special the shape of the Niger river delimiting the Western boundary of the park. Tamou Game Reserve is located North to the Tapoa river to the Northern limit of the Park. On the Eastern side of the Niger river was declared the Dosso Partial Reserve, where little wildlife still remains today. In Burkina Faso, there is a a very complex system of protected areas focusing on the Arly and the W National Parks. The Burkina W National Park , along with the Nigerien and the Benin parts, are supposedly managed as a single protected area, which was established as a 10.000 km2 Transboundary Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 2002, and was the first of its kind in Africa at the time of its creation. References: The Arly block is divided into several hunting areas and game reserves with diferent categories of protection. The Arly National Park is not yet gazetted. It is composed of the Arly and Madjoari game reserves and is in fact managed as a national park. The most significant protected areas surrounding Arly are Singou, Pama and Konkoumbari game and hunting reserves. Pendjari National Park was proposed as an extension of the W Niger heritage site in 2006 which was rejected by the UNESCO. The three countries were invited to re-asses the proposal and to ensure continuity between W Niger and Pendjari and to considere buffer areas. Plans are now ongoing to declare the whole WAP complex as an extension of the existing W Niger heritage site in 2017. References: Arly a similar vegetation compared to Pendjari, but W receives less rains than the two former blocks (indeed the Northern end of Tamou Reserve is more likely considered as a Sahelian ecosystem with the typical tiger bushes). It seems that Pendjai-Arly did not suffer from the 70’s hard droughts impacting the region, which was not the case of W park. W Niger and Burkina now receives 100mm of rain less than during the 60’s. We now understand that not all the entities forming the WAP receive the same category of protection. Thus they do not all receive the same fundings and some areas have received more atention than others with the consequence of unequal conservation perforances throughout the block. There are two sperate, marked regimes in the region: a a rainy season followed by a long dry season. During the rainy season some grasslands are partially flooded along the Pendjari river, which appears to be the perfect habitat for Buffon kobs during the dry season. The rainy season also fills many ponds along the Pendjari that start to dry from October and at the climax very few ponds still remains with water. Some famous ponds are Bori, Bali, Marre sacrée… Wildlife concentrate around these last water points during the dry season. The Pendjari and the Mekrou rivers are perrenial, the other rivers dry up at the end of the dry season. The Unesco heritage site declaration of W Niger and the latter declaration of W Transboundary Biosphere reserve and Pendjari Biosphere Reserve helped these areas to receive important fundings from international donors in the last two decades. In W National Park, the first important project called ECOPAS was set up European Union from 2001 to 2008 to recover the park wildlife and to coordinate the three countries administration. The first fase of the project (2001-2005) had a budget of 9 million USD equillay shared by the three countries for a period of 5 years. During the project ECOPAS, the total park budget increased to 5,7 MUSD per year (560 MUSD/km2) according to the Action and Management Plan, and focused on administration, coordination, infrastructure construction and renovation (rangers posts, roads, water points) and law enforcement. Before the ECOPAS project, only W Niger had an important road network for tourism and law enforcement. ECOPAS main achievement was the creation of hundreds of new roads, especially in W Benin which had little infrastructure before the project. For this reason, only one fith of the project budget was allowed to law enforcement. In comparison, Pendjari Action and Management plan only considered a budget of 1 M USD per year (equivalent 225 USD/km2). ECOPAS ended in 2008 and the park suffered of lack of funds an manpower until the start of the WAP project in 2010. Some authors indicate that wildlife decreased until the beginning of PAPE project due to poaching (conclusion from transect foot surveys). PAPE project was launched in 2011 as the continuation of ECOPAS project, and ended in 2016 and extended to the whole WAP complex (including Arly and Pendjari blocks). PAPE main goal was to sustain in time the results of ECOPAS and to involve further the local comunities. The first fase budget was 21 MUSD for a period of 4 years and focused on coordination between the three countries, infrasctucture building, law enforcement and tourism facilities. Pendjari National Park also received significant help from international donors to support the park activities since the eighties. (projects PAPN 1985-1990 and PGRN until 1999). In 2001 was launched the PCGPN – Project thanks to German cooperation agencies (GTZ/KfW) and thanks to the French cooperation agency (AFD) in a lower proportion, followed by continuous project funded by the German cooperation (GiZ). The PAGAP project only extended to the W Benin and Pendjari parks at same time of the GiZ and PAPE projects. Arly has always received less attention, probably suffering from the lack of visibility. W and Pendjari also clearly benefites from their Biosphere Reserve status contrary to Arly. I will only name the projects PAGEM-PRONAGEM (18,5 USDM – 15 years) and PAUCOF (1,8 billions FCFA) . This last one extended from 2001-2004. As far as I understand, elephant poaching has never been controled to accepted levels. While Africa suffered from a huge elephant wave since 2010 aproximatively, WAP was not the exception. I understand that this is one of the reasons why the Benin government decided to give the management of Pendjari to a private partner (African Parks). Reference: Before African Parks management, the park was under CENAGREF administration. CENAGREF is the agency in charge of the management and administration of the Benin protected areas network. In order to reduce tensions with the local comunities, it has been decided to involve these comunities in the management of Pendjari. Some local villagers thus assist the park for law enforcement and wildlife monitoring. AVIGREF was created to sustain the park conservation, to promote the 28 villagers communities in the peripery, and to reduce human pressures on the park. If AVIGREF is responsible for the salaries of the personal in the park activities, it benefits from the revenues from the hunting industry in the Porga, Batia and Konkombri hunting blocks. Up to 30% of the hunting revenues directly go to AVIGREF. The Porga and Batia hunting areas include some limited extensive human activities at their periphery, but inside the Biosphere Reserve. They also receive the meet from the animal hunted by foreign hunters, they can cut grass in some areas of the park... Reference: I do not know what agreement did reached APN with AVIGREF and the government of Benin about it, but I know from APN newsletters that they will build a 170 km fence, which might include or exclude these areas. I know that AVIGREF have a very positive perception of African Parks. Reference:és/ I will go back later on the park revenues, needs and the park budget just before APN arrived. To be continued...
  21. Hunting Reserve management and performance I will finish with the business plan and the fund needed to cover the parks mission and activities in the WAP. But I will take the time to deal with the significant role of trophy hunting in the conservation at the scale of the WAP complex. In Arly for instance, the last aerial surveys show very high wildlife densities inside the Hunting Reserves and that even exceeds the abundance inside Arly National Park. This is the result of a very good management of these areas, with the creation and maintenance of many artificial water points and the planning of controlled fires during the beginning of the dry season. It also seems that law enforcement has better performance (and more resources) in these areas compared to Arly National Park. In the case of W National Park, we can observe the same results with Mekrou presenting high wildlife densities compared to the depleted W Niger National Park. In the case of Pendjari, the three hunting reserves do not show the same results. Konkombri seems to be a very performant reserve presenting higher wildlife abundance compared to Pendjari National Park, while Porga and Batia hunting reserves have half the abundance of the national park. The CENAGREFF defines objectives to these hunting areas and do the monitoring of the results achieved by the hunting areas. In order to ensure law enforcement inside the hunting areas, CENAGREF covers these territories jointly with personal of the concessions, which lower the costs of the park administration that can focus on the national park. Konkombouri hunting concession performance in Burkina:'Ouest_Evaluation_ecologique_et_economique_de_la_Zone_de_Chasse_de_Konkombouri_au_Burkina_Faso Revision of the hunting concessions contracts in Benin Rapport Final_évaluation contrats amodiation ZC_ version fevrier 2014 Importance of trophy hunting in WAP: There are some plans to create some village hunting zones South to Pendjari National Park (Seri area) and South to Djona Hunting reserves (Rapidalibori), that would help the local communities to benefit from the conservation in the core areas. On the other hand, this will clearly help to conserve wildlife in the buffer areas.
  22. Management and Action Plans For some reasons the W and Pendjari management and action plans are available on the internet. It is usually dificult to find these documents, for example, in the case of African Parks, I have looked for their business and management plans but I have have never been able to find them. This is very interesting because you can see the advancement of the ECOPAS project in terms of infrastructure construction, which is fundamental to complete the law enforcement plan. Basically, the plan is focusing on the international coordination between the three countries, the development of infrastructure (water points maintenance and development, tracks and road maintenance and development, viewpoint, maintenance of natural or artificial salt licks), community relations and programs, livestock strategies and management and law enforcement. These documents are thus a real mine of information of the parks plans, and of the general context. It also covers the conservation historial done before. Interesting to notice that the W management plan is a common plan for Burkina, Niger and Benin. If you are interested to see the actions considered to conserve the parks, and the results expected for each action, I will let the link of the plans above. W Transboundary Block: The key in the management of the WAP area is the coordination of the three countries. If less efforts is done of one of components of the Biosphere Reserve, this will affect the global performance of the area. For this reason patrolling is conducted by joint teams at the frontier of the three countries, and of course at a national scale far from the frontiers. Efforts have been done to develop Burkina and Benin components under ECOPAS and PAPE that received less attention in the past compared to Niger, when Niger tried to develop tourism with different touristic products. Tourism increased a lot in W Niger until 2011 when the French military intervention in Mali led to a decline of tourism. Point Afrique operator that took the management of Tapoa Hotel had to leave since that its operations where highly linked with tourism in the Sahelo-Saharian region. Another important operator is the Lamentin Ecolodge located on an island in the Niger river which offers spectacular views. In Burkina tourism is very reduced. In Benin it is non-existent. 2006-2010 W Management Plan (mid-term revision, developed under ECOPAS project) Shorter version: 2017-2026 W Management Plan (developed under PAPE project) Arly Block Arly National Park has received very little attention compared to W and Pendjari parks. Infrastructure is very limited and the few tourists visiting the park prefer to use instalations of hunting operators located around the park. Arly National Park is now composed of one central area and two peripheral areas (that were before hunting reserves) that are very difficult to control due to budget reasons. The main problem of the park is the presence of the Madjoari enclave which difficults the management of the park in the peripheral areas as said before (higher perimeter means more resources to control ilegal activities). There are plans to relocate the villages inhabitants of Madjaori enclave but this will clearly be an expansive operation, but the result will clearly benefit to wildlife and will lower the costs of the park administration. 2013-2017 Arly Management Plan Pendjari Block: The activities considered in the Pendjari Management plan are totally coherent with the decision to give the management of the park to the NGO African Parks. I have seen on the CENAGREFF website that the park authorities realized a workshop jointly with Burkina Faso Arly National Park representatives, I guess the idea was to align the activities of both parks together and to find similar standards, especially for the activities led at the frontier along the Pendjari river. Special attention is given to the corridor between Pendjari block and Oti-Keran block in Togo, in order to recover the Togolese are in the future and funds are considered in the management plan of Pendjari to ensure this objective. 2004-2013 Pendjari Management Plan _pacr_Pendjari.pdfère%20Pendjari.pdf 2016-2025 Pendjari Management Plan PAPACO Niger park evaluation Niger protected areas performance evaluation from 2010: Law Enforcement Plan (LAB) There is also a specific action plan focused on law enforcement at the scale of the WAPOK (includes rehabilitation of Oti and Keran protected areas in Togo). It is considering very important resources. I am not sure the park fullfils 30% of the objectives of this plan because of the limited funds available. The needs to reach the objective of this plan is 45 MUSD por a 5 years period, equivalent to 9 MUSD per year for the whole area of 23.000 km2. Law enforcement plan (PAULAB) Projects final evaluation PAPE was fundamental to continue the work done under ECOPAS project. The achievements at mid-term of PAPE can be seen in the following documents if you are interested to understand the contribution of this project. I also found this short presentation of PACAP project from 2012 that show an increase of the direct and indirect observations of wildlife during the execution of the project:
  23. Please fin enclosed the last aerial surveys conducted in Comoé (2010 - 2014 - 2016). Lapuente research on chimpanzee with camera traps, available in the same report, also confirmed the presence of bongo, golden cat, giant forest hog, bush pig and leopards. These three different species were also observed from during the 2016 aerial survey. 7A - Cote dIvoire - Comoé 20170131 public.pdf
  24. I am trying to have access to the report of this aerial census, if I am able to see it I will give you the main findings. The area that was surveyed corresponds to the North East of CAR, where two important protected areas are located: Manovo Gounda Saint Floris National Park (MGSFNP), which is also a World Heritage Site, and Bamingui Bangoram National Park. In the last aerial census of the area, Bouché was very alarmed by the state of these two parks and noticed that wildlife was more abundant in the untying areas surrounding the protected areas. Livestock encroachment was very important in the Northern part of the two parks. MGSPNP was significantly more affected compared to Bamingui Bangoram. The last aerial census results can be found here:é Ph 2012 Thèse doctorat.pdf Bouché last article was entitled "Game Over"... This was before that the SELEKA rebellion hit the country and put its leader Djotodia at the head of the country. SELEKA was then banned by its former leader and is now officially gone but some of its former CAR members joined Abdoulaye Hissene, one lord of war settled in Bria which is more or less in the middle of the country. They are also supported by militias from Sudan and from Chad. For this reasons the oficial government of CAR only hardly controls 16 out the 18 counties of this country larger than France and Belgium together. In Benguassou South of the country the situation is very difficult with hundred of people fleeing the area to seek refuge in Chinko protected area. LRA is very present at the East of the country and have sometimes ventured inside Manovo and Bamingui probably looking for elephants to fund there rebellion. LRA was settled years ago around Radom National Park in Sudan according to a Nat Geo article, I do not know if Joseph Kony is still there because there are also said to act in the South of CAR and destroyed Bakouma uranium mine infrastructure, and is reported very present in the Bili Uere area and of course around Garamba National Park as everybody now knows the two last located in DRC. National Geographic published different articles about this situation in 2015: I don't know why but this year the team composed of American and Ugandan special units that had for mission to track Joseph Kony and dismantle LRA was sent back to their respective countries, when the terrorist groups continues its operations. There is a strong will to try to save what is still left around MGSFNP and Bamingui. The French Army is based at Ndelé to stabilize the region and even patrol the park with the law enforcement team to ensure their security. An important project was set up by the European Union called EcoFaune +, which is the continuation of ECOFAC and ECOFAUNE. The activities of this project are funded by the BEKOU Trust Fund settled by international donors (mostly the EU) to stabilize CAR. Their mission is to control back the park and the villager hunting reserves. They have limited resources but the project funds permitted them to pay salaries of 40 rangers, buy further 4x4 vehicles and motorbikes. It is expected by the project ECOFAD VI will continue ECOFAUNE project. I will quote the UNESCO to underline the mission of ECOFAUNE+: The Fauna Ecosystem project in the North-east region of the Central African Republic (CAR) (ECOFAUNE+), financed by the BEKOU EU Trust Fund, has among its objectives: the reduction of pressure on natural resources exerted by trans-border users through continuous surveillance; the contribution to regional dialogue on cross-border transhumance and to the fight against poaching; the training of young people with a view to their vocational integration;, and the resumption of tourism activities to revitalize the local economy; The Central Africa Biodiversity Conservation Programme – Protecting Central Africa’s Elephants (CABPC – PCAE), funded by the African Development Bank, aims at supporting the institutions responsible for the protection of fauna and flora in CAR, to improvement the cross-border management in the fight against poaching and to raise awareness on this issue; The main activities implemented, in and around the property, are : the rehabilitation of the Manovo base camp and the surveillance trails in the Village Hunting Zones (ZCV) around the property, the acquisition of equipment (vehicles and motor bikes) including surveillance tools for patrols (such as drones and camera traps), the strengthening of human resources and staff training. Thirty-five anti-poaching patrolling missions took place since August 2016. An anti-poaching tripartite agreement was signed between the CAR, Chad and Cameroon. The adoption of a new code for wildlife and protected areas is being finalized. Preliminary bio-monitoring studies were undertaken and an aerial survey was foreseen for March 2017; The preparation of a land-use development plan is on-going and will be followed by the establishment of a development and management plan for the property as well as a Management Plan for the hunting zones. The local communities are strongly involved in the management of the protected areas of the North-east of CAR, including those living in the property; Insufficient financial, human and logistical resources, porous borders, cross-border transhumance, artisanal mining and insecurity are all evoked as factors likely to have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. Source available here: Advancements of these projects are available in French in the following links: 2016 2017

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