African Parks rangers start their mission in Côte d’Ivoire

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on Friday, 18 November 2022 10:01
African Parks rangers at Pendjari Park, Benin, in January 2018. ©Stefan Heunis/AFP

The partnership between Ivorian authorities and the South African nature conservation NGO has come to fruition. Several rangers have just arrived in Côte d'Ivoire.

Closely monitored by president Alassane Ouattara, the collaboration falls under the aegis of the National Security Council (CNS). The CNS Executive Director Fidèle Sarassoro, ministers Téné Birahima Ouattara (Defence) and Vagondo Diomandé (Security), is managing the partnership.

According to our sources, African Parks Network (APN) deployed its first group of rangers in Côte d’Ivoire on 11 November. So, what is their remit?

Ramping up

There are currently six rangers, some of whom are former French special forces. Their first mission will be devoted to the training of Ivorian forest rangers. Other modules will be devoted to first aid, the fight against poachers and clandestine gold panning. This is the beginning of a gradual deployment in anticipation of a staff expansion. The APN rangers will work in collaboration with the Ivorian parks and reserves office.

Eventually, they will be entrusted with the management of several protected areas, such as the forest reserve of Bossématié, in the country’s east. Covering more than 30,000 hectares, it is still full of elephants, the national animal. Another spot is in the sights of the rangers: the Comoé National Park, a sanctuary for jihadists and cross-border crime. The amount of the contract has not been disclosed, but several bilateral and multilateral financial partners will be part of the funding round.

African Parks is also active in Benin, where it manages the Pendjari and W parks, bordering Burkina Faso and Niger. In late March, Alassane Ouattara gave his agreement upon the NGO’s arrival in Côte d’Ivoire, but the signing of this partnership – scheduled for April – was delayed. Discussions were initiated by the former minister of water and forests, Alain-Richard Donwahi.

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