Rehabilitating Benin's Pendjari National Park
The Presidency of the Republic of Benin and the conservation NGO African Parks announce the signing of a 10-year renewable partnership to revitalise, rehabilitate and develop Pendjari National Park, one of the largest remaining protected reserves in West
The total investment of USD$26 million over 10 years will be used to protect and develop the Park spanning 4,800 km2. The revitalisation of Pendjari National Park is one of the 45 flagship projects of the “Revealing Benin” investment programme, announced by the Presidency of the Republic of Benin in December 2016, and is the eleventh park under management by African Parks on the continent.
Pendjari National Park: revitalising an exceptional wildlife reserve
Pendjari National Park, located in the north-west of Benin, is part of the WAP complex (W-Arly-Pendjari) spanning Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. It is the largest remaining intact ecosystem in the whole of West Africa and the last vast refuge for West African wildlife. With an area of 4,800km2, Pendjari is home to elephant, buffalo, lion, cheetah, antelope and many other species (hippo, tsessebe, Buffon's kob and Defassa waterbuck to name a few).
However, this exceptional reserve faces major threats including poaching, demographic pressure on surrounding land, as well as exponential resource erosion. As a result, the Presidency of the Republic of Benin has quickly put in place a plan to revitalise and protect the Park, as part of its investment programme “Revealing Benin “. In a progressive step the Government of Benin is committing $5.9M over 10 years, and initial start-up funds are being provided by several donors including the Wyss Foundation who made a significant multi-year challenge grant to African Parks to bring new parks under management.
A long-term partnership
By signing a partnership agreement, the Presidency of Benin and African Parks set a goal of doubling the Park's wildlife populations within the next 10 years. The action plan for the Park aims to develop responsible tourism, and to ensure the economic and social development of the region. Three main work streams have been identified:
1. Security for the inhabitants and the protection of animal species. Securing Pendjari is the main priority of the agreement. A special brigade will be set up, with the recruitment of 10 officers, non-commissioned officers and specialised technicians, along with the training of 90 guards. A communications and geolocation network will cover the entire site, and all information will be centralised 24 hours a day at the operations coordination centre. A 190 km perimeter fence, 150 km of roads, an operational base, staff quarters, three guard posts and three small airfields will also be constructed.
2. Conservation of biodiversity. In order to ensure the success of this partnership, an inventory of all animal species will be carried out every two years. A telemetric or specific monitoring system of key species such as elephants, lions, leopards and cheetahs - the prize species of Pendjari - will be implemented. Scientific research will also be fostered through close collaboration with Beninese and foreign universities and research organisations.
3. Sustainable economic impact and local community development. A unique tourist offering will be developed, with the objective of increasing visitors from 6,000 to more than 9,000. The challenge is to generate more direct revenue for the management of the Park, and to do so, African Parks will redevelop and manage the hotel and lodge in Pendjari.
Due to growing demographic pressure (the human population surrounding Pendjari is expected to increase from 50,000 in 2017 to
Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, is a birthplace of the vodun (or “voodoo”) religion and home to the former Dahomey Kingdom from circa 1600–1900. In Abomey, Dahomey's former capital, the Historical Museum occupies two royal palaces with basreliefs recounting the kingdom's past and a throne mounted on human skulls. Pendjari National Park lies to the north of Benin.
Dialing code: +229
President: Patrice Talon
Currency: West African CFA franc
Population: 10.88 million (2015) World Bank