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Safaridude

Pendjari National Park, Benin - January 2015

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Bushfire

 

The Anglo-centric safari world is practically ignorant of “French Africa”. It is easy to dismiss French Africa altogether in the name of safety if one imagines it as an undifferentiated pool of chaos and political instability.

 

Agree with that ! And one can easily say this about a lot of other things....

There a french thematic tv channel of the french national broadcast company TF1, called Ushuaïa which has these awesome documentaries about nature (also destinations in french speaking africa). They used to broadcast it freally here in Belgium but not any more, such a pity...

 

 

Stepping back from “Palin-ism”, however, there are gems to be found in French Africa.

 

And let's all find these gems !

 

 

 

For us europeans, most french speaking destinations in africa are not at all difficult to reach.

Regular flights and if one does some effort they arent' that pricy at all (600 euro for flight from brussels to benin for example), logistics doesn't seem to be that much of a deal.

Book a flight, arrange for a car with driver and just go to the Park. Ok, it will take you some time to get to... but if one has the time, so what?

In another topic, a np in sub sahara africa was offered as a destination by a private guide for a rediculous amount of money. One of the reasons that was given for the high price were the huge logistics of getting to it. This got my attention. So I looked it up, and found out that it was actually quite easy to reach and not expensive at all.

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Bushfire

Nice trip report safaridude! thank you for this

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Super LEEDS

@@Safaridude tres good.

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OeBenin

if you want more pictures from the Pendjari National Parc you can visit www.facebook.com/OeBenin. Since 2012 we have camera traps in the parc and are working together with local AVIGREF community and parc direction. Sorry for my english :)

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Safaridude

Some of the elephants in Pendjari indeed turn out to posses hybrid savanna-forest elephant traits.

 

A short summary of the new research paper is found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mec.13472/full

Edited by Safaridude

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samapi

@@Safaridude, woww!! That is a great trip report with tons of interesting info and photos about the endemic fauna we can found in this park that is rarely mentionned in other forums and for which it is quite difficult to find reliable information

Thanks for sharing all this with us

One question: I thought there were "white" giraffes (giraffa camelopardalis peralta) in the W national park but I don t see any picture in your report. Did you see any while you were there or are the peralta somewhere else? Thanks for your comment on this.

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egilio

I think there's only one viable population, which is in Niger, at less then 100k from Niamey. There might be a few in W park in Niger, or hopefully the population expands and starts roaming W park again, but as far as I know none have been seen in a long time in the protected areas in Benin or Burkina Faso bordering that park.

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samapi

Ok. Thanks for your feedback @@egilio

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Safaridude

I think there's only one viable population, which is in Niger, at less then 100k from Niamey. There might be a few in W park in Niger, or hopefully the population expands and starts roaming W park again, but as far as I know none have been seen in a long time in the protected areas in Benin or Burkina Faso bordering that park.

 

Yup!

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Erik Nyman

Truly enjoyed this report! So great to see something from West Africa, and you've taken some outstanding photos. Congrats!

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Tom Kellie

Truly enjoyed this report! So great to see something from West Africa, and you've taken some outstanding photos. Congrats!

 

~ @@Erik Nyman

 

Welcome to Safaritalk!

It's very nice of you to join us.

Are you a guide somewhere in Africa?

If it's ever convenient, a self-introduction in the Introductions section would be interesting for all to read.

Tom K.

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Abena

@@OeBenin - does your organization have a website? I'm interested to find out more about what do in Benin. And, welcome to ST :D

@@Erik Nyman - Hi and welcome!

Edited by Abena

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OeBenin

now more pictures from Pendjari and the W-Niger on www.inaturalist.org/observations/oebenin have a look :)

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adam parkison

This thread has been very helpful in planning a trip to Benin. Im hoping to go next winter. If anyone has current trip reports or updated info on visiting Pendjari it would be great to hear about it!

Thanks,

 

Adam

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wenchy

@@Adam

This thread has been very helpful in planning a trip to Benin. Im hoping to go next winter. If anyone has current trip reports or updated info on visiting Pendjari it would be great to hear about it!

Thanks,

 

Adam

I have seen approximately 8-10 korrigum near the lodge as well as at the watering hole in front of the lodge atleast 1x/day

 

If you're interested there is a location in the south to attempt to find red bellied guenons that are not habituated at lama forest. There are three other sites available ( W/Mona's, Geoffrey's colobus ) but they are habituated and fed by staff. One of the other three sites is a plant/tree conservation site W/atleast 50 of benins endangered plants/trees if that's of any interest.

 

There is also a sea turtle conservation program in Grand Popo if you're interested.

 

Unrelated to NP wildlife there are koto koli ponies in djougou if endemic horse breeds are of any interest.

 

Oh & I saw a fairly small group of buffalo maybe 30 and in that group lots of shaggy, reddish buffs with not many really dark buffs. Just an observation.

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wenchy

Oh & if you needed more incentive saw northwest African cheetah few days ago

 

http://i.imgur.com/9DjDYXA.jpg

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Safaridude

Post-script... nearly three years on...

 

gallery_6003_1198_618720.jpg

A herd of korrigum in Pendjari National Park, Benin

 

It would start at the northeastern tip of South Africa.  A wide band can be drawn on the map from there going north/northeast through East Africa.  Then at the western corner of Ethiopia, that band would narrow and turn sharply west and stretch all the way to the coastal countries of Senegal and Mauritania.  That’s some 5,000 miles in length with variable narrow widths – of classic African savanna.  Within that swath, wherever there was medium-height grass that stayed green most of the year, there were Damaliscus lunatus.  So ubiquitous and fecund, Damaliscus lunatus were counted in millions.  Over the millennia, geographical barriers within its range caused Damaliscus lunatus to evolve into different subspecies (or races).  Today, there are six recognized:  (1) tsessebe (the nominate subspecies Damaliscus lunatus lunatus, of northeastern South Africa, Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, southern Zambia, the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, and eastern Angola); (2) Bangweulu tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus superstes, restricted to the Bangweulu Wetlands of Zambia); (3) topi (Damaliscus lunatus jimela, of the greater Lake Victoria region, including Serengeti/Mara); (4) coastal topi (Damaliscus lunatus topi, of the coastal floodplains of Kenya and Somalia); (5) tiang (Damaliscus lunatus tiang, of the northwestern tip of Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, southeastern Chad and The Central African Republic); and (6) korrigum (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum).1  

 

The story of this last subspecies, korrigum2, is a wake-up call – one of conservation tragedy and hope.

 

Historically, the korrigum, the largest bodied and longest horned of the Damaliscus lunatus subspecies, occupied, in hundreds of thousands, seasonally flooded grasslands ranging from southwestern Chad/northern Cameroon all the way west to Senegal and Mauritania. Early explorers to the region reported seeing fantastic herds of korrigum.  Korrigum was to West Africa what wildebeest still is to East Africa today.  From Rowland Ward’s Records of Big Game, African and Asiatic Sections (1935):  (most likely referring to the conditions existing prior to the 20th century) “this antelope lives in enormous numbers on open plains from Senegal to (Chad) and if a census could be taken it would no doubt prove to have the greatest population of any African antelope”.  Jeffrey A. Sayer, in The Pattern of the Decline of the Korrigum Damaliscus lunatus in West Africa (1982) deduced that the decline of the korrigum probably began in the waning years of the 19th century with an outbreak of rinderpest (cattle-born disease) and continued with, among other things, habitat loss, competition with cattle, poaching and additional bouts of rinderpest.

 

large.KorrigumPast.jpg.7d7c5578d986410f8

Former range of korrigum

 

The resultant extirpations of korrigum are documented in a sobering late 20th century report card, courtesy of African Antelope Database 1998:

 

Mauritania:  The korrigum formerly occurred in southern Mauritania, where it was exterminated by uncontrolled hunting and habitat degradation.

 

Mali:  The korrigum was formerly abundant in central Mali, moving seasonally between the sahel grasslands and the floodplains of the Niger Delta.  It was wiped out by competition for grazing with large numbers of cattle, and by uncontrolled hunting.  The last survivors disappeared in the mid-late 1970s.

 

Niger:  The korrigum was formerly abundant in the sahelian grasslands and savannas of southern Niger, but it has been exterminated widely by competition with cattle and uncontrolled hunting.  By the late 1980s, it survived only in W National Park-Tamou Faunal Reserve, where the small population was gradually decreasing.  No recent information on its status.

 

Senegal:  The korrigum was formerly widespread in central and northern Senegal in the semi-arid grasslands of northern savanna zone and the southern sahel.  It died out before 1930 because of overhunting and competition with cattle for grazing.3

 

Gambia:  The korrigum formerly occurred in savanna grasslands, but it died out in the early 1900s.

 

Burkina Faso:  The korrigum formerly occurred throughout, apart from the southwest.  It has been eliminated from almost all of its former range by the expansion of cattle and illegal hunting.  The last survivors occur in the Arly-Singou protected area complex and W National Park in the southeast.  Its numbers appear to have increased in Arly National Park between 1991 and 1998, although they are still less than the estimated population in this area in the 1970s.

 

Ghana:  The korrigum formerly occurred in the northern savannas, but it had been exterminated by the mid-1970s.

 

Togo:  The korrigum formerly occurred in northern Togo.  It survived in very small numbers (perhaps 20-25 individuals) within Keran National Park in the late 1980s.  It has probably been exterminated by the uncontrolled poaching and large-scale encroachment of settlement which has affected this area since 1991.

 

Nigeria:  The korrigum formerly occurred widely in the northern savanna and floodplain grasslands.  It has been eliminated from almost all of its former range by uncontrolled hunting and the encroachment of cattle and agriculture.  It still occurs in small numbers in the northeast, mainly through seasonal immigration from Cameroon.

 

Cameroon:  The korrigum formerly occurred widely north of the Adamaoua Plateau, but it is now largely or entirely restricted to Waza National Park and North Province.  It was formerly abundant in Waza, where there were an estimate 20,000 in 1962.  This population has subsequently decreased markedly because of drought, poaching, rinderpest, competition with domestic livestock for food and water, and ecological degradation of the Waza-Logone floodplain because of the disruption of the natural flooding regime which has occurred since the construction of the Maga dam at the southern edge of the floodplain in the 1970s.  Aerial surveys of Waza National Park in 1977 produced population estimates of only 600-800 korrigum.  Its population in this park subsequently increased to an estimated 1,680 in 1994.  It occurs in small but apparently stable numbers in Benoue, Bouba Ndjida and Faro National Parks and some of the adjoining hunting zones in North Province.

 

Benin:  The korrigum formerly occurred widely in floodplains and dry savanna grasslands in the north.  It survives locally within its former range, with the largest numbers in Pendjari National Park and the adjoining hunting zones.  This population was estimated to number about 180 in the 1970s and late 1980s.  It is still relatively easy to observe korrigum in Pendjari, where its population appears to be stable.  Its numbers are small and decreasing in W National Park-Djona Hunting Zone.

 

Since this 1998 report, there has been a further significant decline in the korrigum population.  A 2012 census in what was Korrigum’s main stronghold, Cameroon’s Waza National Park, estimated the population to be below 500 a long way down from 20,000 in 1962.  And since then, Waza has come under further pressure from livestock incursions and an infiltration of Boko Haram into the greater-Waza area.  As a result, tourism in Waza has come to a virtual halt, and there are anecdotes suggesting that the park is in a state of disarray.  Currently, only (1) Waza National Park in Cameroon, (2) parts of Cameroon’s so called “North Region” and (3) the greater-Pendjari area of Benin and Burkina Faso are host to the only viable populations of korrigum, with the three areas carrying perhaps a couple of hundred each, but with Waza’s integrity as a protected area in doubt.

 

large.KorrigumNow.jpg.e988db49f7c2b019a4

Current range of korrigum

 

The recent announcement that African Parks has been contracted to manage Pendjari National Park in Benin and has secured the necessary intermediate-term funding from several sources offers hope for the korrigum, not to mention for the last properly functioning West African savanna park.  In addition to korrigum, Pendjari and its greater dispersal areas harbor some of the last remaining West African populations of lion, cheetah, leopard and wild dog, as well as unique, hybrid savanna/forest elephant.  It is hoped that African Parks will bring its expertise and resources to take Pendjari from strength to strength.  The squandering of the millions of acres of West African savanna and the vast majority of its once most abundant herbivore stands as yet another foolish act by mankind.  Conservationists now have a chance to rewrite some of that history.

 

_____________________

 

1 There are different categorizations of the various subspecies of Damaliscus.  This method follows that of the IUCN.

 

2 Other common names for korrigum include western topi and giant topi.  Locally in West Africa it is called damalisque.

 

3 It is sadly ironic that the korrigum was once falsely referred to as “Senegal hartebeest” due to its abundance in that country.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Safaridude

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Sangeeta

Thanks, as always, for sharing your insights @Safaridude

The usual race against time :(

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optig

@Sangeeta@Jeremie I have a strong suspicion that at some time in the future I'll be visiting Pendjari especially because now so much  money is being made available to improve it.

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