The Presidency of the Republic of Benin and conservation NGO, African Parks, have signed a 10-year renewable partnership agreement to revitalise, rehabilitate and develop Pendjari National Park.
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 refuge for West African wildlife. It 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, the park faces major threats including poaching, demographic pressure on surrounding land, as well as exponential erosion.
A total investment of US$26 million will be used to protect and develop the park, which spans 4 800sqkm. The revitalisation of Pendjari National Park is one of the 45 flagship projects of the ‘Revealing Benin’ investment programme, announced by the Presidency in December 2016. The government of Benin is committing US$5.9 million over 10 years, and initial start-up funds are being provided by several donors including the Wyss Foundation.
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:
- Security for the inhabitants and the protection of animal species. A special brigade will be set up, along with a 190km perimeter fence, 150km of roads, an operation base and other infrastructure.
- Conservation of biodiversity. An inventory of all animals species will be carried out every two years along with scientific research together with various universities and organisations.
- Sustainable economic impact and local community development. A unique tourist offering will be developed, with the objective of increasing visitor from 6 000 to more than 9 000. The hotel and lodge in Pendjari will be redeveloped and managed by African Parks.
Job creation is also an important aspect of the partnership, with 400 direct jobs resulting from the development of the park.
“The Pendjari National Park is an exceptional reserve, which requires us to act quickly to protect and revitalise. Through this partnership, we intend to reveal its full potential. We will put in place the necessary structures to preserve the fauna and the flora, but also make its development sustainable. It is a project of conservation, sustainable tourism and social development” said José Pliya, Director of the National Agency for the Heritage and Tourism of Benin, in charge of the implementation of the project for the Presidency of the Republic.
“Pendjari along with the WAP complex is arguably the most important wildlife area and largest intact and functioning ecosystem left in all of West Africa” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks. “It’s a critical and progressive moment for conservation and the entire region; and we are honoured to enter into this partnership with the Government of Benin, to manage this extraordinary landscape for the benefit of both wildlife and the people of Benin”.