The W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) Landscape is an area of outstanding biodiversity significance, covering approx. 35,000 km2 in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. It is the largest and most important continuum of terrestrial, semi-aquatic and aquatic ecosystems in the West African savannah belt, the most significant range area for elephant conservation in the entire West African subregion and the most viable natural refuge available to the main vulnerable and/or threatened animal species including around 90% of the sub-population of the critically endangered West African lion and harbouring the largest extent of protected leopard range in West Africa. The WAP Landscape is therefore the last refuge of the Northwest African cheetah sheltering the only remaining population of this Critically Endangered subspecies in West Africa.
Biodiversity within the WAP landscape is threatened by various factors, including agricultural encroachment, massive illegal cattle grazing that depletes resources for prey and thus carnivores, poaching, uncontrolled bushfires, siltation and pollution of surface waters, climate change and variability, and unsustainable harvesting of NTFPs, timber and fish leading to the widespread habitat degradation.
Work to safeguard this cheetah landscape has become part of a larger program of work undertaken with ZSL’s Africa Programme (ZSL WAP Program https://www.zsl.org/conservation/regions/africa/west-african-carnivores-and-elephants-in-the-savannah). After securing funds to address these threats, the CCI primarily focused on: 1) Understanding and combatting the IWT threat with the conduction of market surveys in order to assess the current local and national trade in big cats products around protected areas in Benin and in Niger; 2) Providing a reliable estimate of leopard and cheetah population size with a bi-annual camera trapping survey conducted in Pendjari NP, Benin; and 3) Working with communities neighbouring the WAP to raise awareness about cheetah conservation, and to support sustainable livelihoods and reduce illegal activities.
The CCI continues to provide support to ZSL Benin to address threats to the WAP landscape and implements three additional projects:
- Biannual camera trap monitoring survey of cheetah and leopard in the Pendjari Complex
- Providing a reliable estimate of their population size.
- Understanding Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) in the WAP landscape
- Conducting market surveys in order to assess the current local and national trade in big cat products around protected areas in Benin and in Niger.
- Engaging with communities living in the WAP Landscape
- Supporting IGA and environment-friendly activities to enhance their livelihoods.
GiZ RBT WAP & GIC WAP https://www.giz.de/en/worldwide/52653.html