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W National Park
©Julien Chevillot

African Parks has concluded a management agreement for W National Park in Benin, adding the 18th national park to its management portfolio. The National Park is contiguous with Pendjari National Park, and together the two national parks make up half of the one million hectare (10,000 km²) W-Arly-Penjari Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest intact ecosystem in West Africa spanning Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

This ecosystem is home to the only viable populations of West African lion, cheetah and Korrigum antelope and is named for the “W” shape of the River Niger in the park. African Parks began their work in Benin with Penjari National Park in 2017 in a partnership with the Ministry of Living Environment and Sustainable Development, the National Agency for Heritage Promotion and Tourism Development, and the National Centre for the Management of Wildlife Reserves. Together with the efforts of The Wyss Foundation and the National Geographic Society and with the support of La Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA) and The Wildcat Foundation, African Parks has made remarkable strides. In the face of escalating regional insecurity, they have successfully doubled local employment; initiated livelihoods programmes including sustainable fish harvesting and beekeeping; fitted satellite collars on key species for monitoring purposes; and established a well-trained team of over 100 rangers.

In recognition of W National Park’s critical importance as an anchor ecosystem, the Benin government and associated organisations committed to its conservation and worked with African Parks to put together a Priority Intervention Plan to upgrade infrastructure and increase the capacity of the park management. This has evolved to the fully delegated management mandate signed on the 25th of June and is part of “Revealing Benin”, a national investment programme that underlies Benin’s ongoing efforts to restore protected areas.

This is the third national park to come under African Parks management in 2020, with Iona National Park in Angola and Chinko in the Central African Republic added earlier this year. In the announcement of the management mandate for W National Park, African Parks explains that the Benin component of the W-Arly-Penjari Complex is vital for delivering essential ecosystem services, supporting livelihoods, and serving as a national tourism asset. They “envision that through this partnership…W and Pendjari can serve as a source of hope for ecological recovery while engendering greater cooperation to boost security, stability and prosperity for not only northern Benin but the entire region”.

About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for anyone NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 18 national parks and protected areas in Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information visit www.africanparks.orgTwitterInstagram and Facebook

W National Park
©Julien Chevillot

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