Today, the National Geographic Society, African Parks, the Wyss Foundation and the Republic of Benin announced a groundbreaking partnership to help secure and rehabilitate one of the last remaining wild landscapes in all of West Africa, Benin’s Pendjari National Park. Together, the four partners are initially committing more than US$23M to safeguard the park.
African Parks, a conservation non-governmental organization (NGO) that manages protected areas across Africa, assumed management of Pendjari, a World Heritage site, in partnership with the Presidency of the Republic of Benin in May of 2017. Earlier that year, Mr. Hansjörg Wyss, a member of African Parks’ board of directors, made a transformational commitment to support parks currently under African Parks’ management, and to help it bring up to five new parks into the portfolio.
The National Geographic Society’s monetary commitment of US$7.5M over five years complements a portion of the Wyss Foundation’s commitment to African Parks for Pendjari National Park. This partnership aims to protect, restore and revitalize Pendjari’s extraordinary landscape through increased operational effectiveness, scientific research, innovative technology and visually compelling storytelling.
For almost two decades, African Parks has implemented a successful private-public partnership model to conserve Africa’s wildlife and remaining wild areas, providing expertise in highly effective protected area management that will be brought to bear in the day-to-day management of Pendjari. National Geographic will complement this work by leading science-based exploration of the park; developing technology to monitor and protect the site; convening stakeholders to develop a large-scale management plan; creating educational materials relevant to the community; and producing visually compelling materials that make the case for long-term financing and protection.
Pendjari, which is located in the northwest of Benin and measures 4,800 square kilometers, is an anchoring part of the WAP complex (W-Arly-Pendjari) spanning across three countries: Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. It is the largest remaining intact ecosystem in the whole of West Africa and the last refuge for the region’s largest remaining population of elephant and the critically endangered West African lion; along with cheetah, antelope, buffalo and many other species.
This globally important reserve, the last stronghold for key species in West Africa, faces major threats, including poaching, demographic pressure on surrounding land, and exponential resource erosion. In a progressive step to protect the nation’s natural heritage, the government of Benin committed US$6M to the park in 2017, and the Presidency of the Republic of Benin put in place a plan to revitalize and protect Pendjari as part of its investment and development program, “Revealing Benin.”
Other key funders of Pendjari National Park include the Wildcat Foundation to help improve law enforcement and counter poaching, and the Elephant Crisis Fund and the Lion Recovery Fund for specific species-related research and protection. All three organizations are committed to protecting this critically important landscape.
***Media assets available at this link: http://bit.ly/NatGeoAfricanParks