Comoé National Park in Côte d'Ivoire lies in a region particularly affected by the Ivorian civil war, which lasted for five years until 2007. A World Heritage site since 1983, it was added to the In Danger list in 2003.
During the conflict, park management authorities in Comoé were effectively forced to abandon their operations, so there were few, if any, deterrents to stop people from looking to the park's natural resources for their own uses. These people included communities living near to the Park boundary and those forced there from more distant areas during the conflict.
Absence of management during such a long and critical period has resulted in intensification of poaching of both small and large mammals, some species of which have been reduced to a half or even a quarter of their abundance of 20 years ago. Studies have shown that this is the most intense period of poaching ever recorded in the Park. Associated impacts of encroachment include increasing incidence of bush fires and the intensification of agriculture within the Park.
Stabilisation of the country's political situation has led the wildlife authority OIPR (Office Ivorien des Parcs et Reserves) to reestablish a presence in Comoé National Park. OIPR applied to the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) for funding and was successful in being awarded a maximum grant of $30,000 to assess the status of poaching threat and to eliminate that threat through the reinforcement of the authority of OIPR in the Park.
This will be achieved through the equipping of technical units, removing illegally established poaching camps and bringing arrested poachers to justice. Furthermore, a permanent OIPR presence in the Park will begin to reduce incursions of poachers, and start halting the spread of agriculture and livestock grazing within the Park.
The RRF-funded work is seen as a vital bridging grant before a larger period of funding becomes available from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) later in 2010.
The Rapid Response Facility is an emergency small grant programme that provides rapid support to allow immediate responses to major threats to wildlife conservation, primarily in UNESCO designated natural World Heritage sites. The RRF is financially supported by the United Nations Foundation, the Arcadia Land Trust and Jet Tours, and aims to process emergency funding requests up to US$30,000 in just 8 working days.