We are pleased to share with you the news of a formal partnership between African Parks and the National Geographic Society. The Society is committing $7.5M over five years for the protection of Pendjari National Park in the West African country of Benin. Together with the Wyss Foundation and their challenge grant, the Government of Benin, The Wildcat Foundation, the Elephant Crisis Fund and the Lion Recovery Fund, more than $23M has been initially committed to help secure this critically important landscape.
Pendjari, which is located in the northwest of Benin and measures 4,800 square kilometers, is part of the WAP complex (W-Arly-Pendjari) spanning 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.
Peter Fearnhead (CEO of African Parks), Gary Knell (CEO) and Jonathan Baillie, (Chief Scientist and SVP) of the National Geographic Society, were honoured in being joined by His Excellency Aurélien A. Agbenonci, the Benin Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. José Pliya, the Managing Director of the National Agency for the Promotion of Heritage and the Development of Tourism. President Patrice Talon of Benin also sent his own remarks regarding the partnership: “This partnership with African Parks, the National Geographic Society and the Wyss Foundation encourages us to continue our efforts to reveal the potential of the Pendjari. The international collaboration for this reserve is extraordinary, especially because it comes at a time when my government is committed to making tourism a lever for long-term development. It is all at once a matter of preservation of our environment and our natural resources, sustainable tourism and social impact.”
By partnering specifically with the National Geographic Society, we aim to protect, restore and revitalize Pendjari’s extraordinary landscape for both wildlife and people through increased operational effectiveness, scientific research, innovative technology and visually compelling storytelling. We hope this is just the beginning of the partnership with National Geographic, and that other parks will follow.