On 14 February 2012, the State Party submitted its report on the state of conservation of the property. The State Party also submitted an evaluation report dated May 2011 on the services of the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR) following the events of the post-electoral crisis. This report indicates that the different services of the OIPR sustained serious damage, notably looting of all equipment, office furniture and vehicles. An assessment of the damage for all the OIPR services was estimated at 944,495,000 CFA francs (USD 1.89 million).
In its February report, the State Party provides the following information concerning the implementation of the joint IUCN/World Heritage Centre reactive monitoring mission of 2006.
a) Strengthen control and surveillance of poaching and improvement of information gathering
The State Party report notes that between 2009 and 2010, the surveillance of the property was maintained at an acceptable level despite conservation problems, but a low period of activity was noted at the end of 2010-beginning 2011 due to the post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. A plan of operation established in 2011 enabled the resumption of surveillance activities but greatly increased poaching was noted in 2011 in comparison to 2010. The State Party indicates that during a workshop for the management of the property in July 2011, it was decided to make a mobile brigade responsible for surveillance and to depend more on Village Surveillance Committees (CVS), which are being created. In addition, the anti-poaching teams and cooperation with the legal authorities in the pursuit against delinquents has been strengthened, and an education and information policy has been developed.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN appreciate that the State Party has undertaken measures to recommence surveillance activities with the support of these partners. However, they note that to halt reduction in the populations of certain threatened species such as the primates (see b) further reinforcement of effective surveillance is required. They note that a study jointly carried out with international cooperation, Ivorian universities and OIPR (to be published in 2012 in the journal “Conservation Biology”) shall better enable the identification of Primate hunting zones under pressure and consider that the results of this study should provide for a reinforced and better targeted organization of patrols which in turn should reduce poaching.
b) Ecological monitoring
The report of the State Party mentions a stabilization of the animal populations between 2008 and 2011, notably the primates and the elephants. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received a copy of the report on the bio-monitoring results from September 2009 to March 2010 produced by the OIPR that confirm that the chimpanzee, duiker and elephant populations show an increase in comparison to 2005. Nevertheless, they also show a considerable decrease (more than 50%) of populations of other primates in general and the Diana monkey in particular, which is in contradiction with the State Party report.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that this report describes the situation before the increase of pressure in 2011 during the post-electoral crisis, mentioned by the State Party and that there is no available data on the impact of this crisis on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. They consider that the increase in illegal activities must be rapidly taken into account to halt the negative tendency on the primate populations. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN emphasize that the most recent inventories of rare species, endemic and threatened, are very outdated preventing a clear picture of the situation concerning the values for which the property was inscribed. IUCN however, notes that it has received information that an ecological monitoring of the property is currently underway.
c) Clarification of the boundaries of the property
The State Party report indicates that the Decree modifying the territory of the National Park with an extension to include the N’Zo Wildlife Reserve has not been promulgated, consequently not authorizing the State Party to make modifications to the boundaries. The State Party undertakes to submit a proposal for modification of the boundaries of the property to a future session of the World Heritage Committee as soon as the revised decree is signed.
d) Extension of socio-economic activities, partnerships and education with neighbouring communities
The State Party report mentions the role the CVS could have in the framework of the Village Conservation and Development Associations (AVCD) in anti-poaching activities. The report notes that these committees are still in the very early stages of development in that only 50% of the AVCD have been created.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the State Party report does not deal with any development activities concerning neighbouring populations, whereas the good management of the Park greatly depends on activities carried out in its periphery. It would appear, according to comments received by IUCN that activities undertaken to date have not always had the expected impact on the conservation of the property, in particular through the lack of participation by populations in decision-making, the Management Committees concerned with these measure being more places of information rather than a sharing of decisions. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN underline the difficulty of establishing an effective development and conservation policy linked to the neighbouring populations and consider that the experiences carried out around the property should be evaluated to assess the impact on the conservation of the site and, in view of the results, to make the necessary adjustments.
e) International cooperation and sustainable funding
In its report on the state of conservation, the State Party underlines the considerable support received from the German Cooperation Agency. With regard to sustainable funding, the State Party mentions a debt conversion project with German Cooperation. A business plan is foreseen for 2012 that should enable the updating of the strategy for sustainable funding. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that the Foundation for the Parks and Reserves of Côte d’Ivoire and its branch FPRCI-UK have established the first endowment fund dedicated to Taï National Park since October 2009, for an initial amount of 2.3 million Euros and that the debt conversion project with Germany could provide 9.5 million Euros.
f) Other conservation problems – illegal agriculture and artisan gold mining activities
The State Party report recognizes that agricultural encroachments have increased in 2010-2011 linked to the post-electoral crisis. However, the report notes that the comparison of satellite images indicate that the degree of forest area was 97.7% in 1998 and is 97.6% in 2011.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN warmly welcome the low level of deforestation in the property, which is exceptional in the regional context of deforestation, including the classified forests. However, they note that the report confirms the intensified agricultural pressure on certain parts of the Park, and consider that provisions should be made to clearly indicate the boundaries of the protected area in the zones under strong pressure.
According to the State Party report, artisan gold mining continues in the Park and is on the increase. There is no precise information on this illegal activity, no recorded violations or impacted zones. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that a focused monitoring of this activity should be established to quantify the extent and the impact of this activity on the integrity of the property.
The State Party report does not provide information on the implementation of the other recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission of 2006, including the evaluation of the feasibility of ecological corridors to the protected areas of Liberia, the extension of research in the functioning of the ecosystem and the development of an eco-tourism strategy.