With the political crisis in the country in 2002, fears existed that commercial poaching, agricultural encroachment and artisanal gold mining would increase substantively. In June 2006, following a return of security, a World Heritage Centre / IUCN monitoring mission visited the World Heritage properties in Cote d’Ivoire, which concluded that the property was not as heavily impacted by political instability as Comoé National Park or Mont Nimba National Park World Heritage properties, which are both on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to implement the 2006 mission recommendations and the emergency actions.
On 2 February 2009, a report on the state of conservation of the Taï National Park was submitted by the State Party. The report gives a description of the ongoing management activities and collaboration with partner organisations. in particular Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), local and foreign research institutions, and the German development agencies KfW/GTZ. The World Heritage Centre also received a copy of a report on the ecological monitoring activities in the property, prepared by the management agency OIPR (Office ivoirien des Parcs et Réserve) and the WCS and a copy of the 2008-2012 business plan prepared with assistance of GTZ.
The State Party report notes that despite the continued presence of the above mentioned threats, improvements in control and surveillance have resulted in an increase in most species as demonstrated by the 2008 biomonitoring research.
The progress on the implementation of the following recommendations of the 2006 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission is reported hereunder:
a) Control and surveillance of poaching and improved monitoring data
Although wildlife populations for many species are recovering, poaching is reported to be still prevalent in the property. While the reported occurrence of animal traps has not changed significantly since 2006-2007, numbers of poaching camps and poaching trails are reported to have diminished significantly. The report mentions that poachers mainly target duikers and primates, which constitute 80% of seizures. The State Party patrol activities cover now 76% of the property.
Poaching continues to be a major management concern and the short term actions include strengthening the anti-poaching brigade with new agents, and to strengthen collaboration with judiciary relating to prosecutions. It is also expected that the clarification of the legal boundaries will further facilitate anti-poaching activities.
In two areas inside the property, artisanal gold extraction continues to be a problem. Within the new limits of the national park, 3000 ha are in use for subsistance agriculture by 1200 families.
b) Ecological monitoring
The positive impacts of surveillance and community outreach activities in the property are evident in the results of the Phase III 2008 biomonitoring ecological study, conducted with the technical assistance of WCS. Results show a significant recovery of wildlife populations in 2006, in particular for duikers and primates: Maxwell Duiker 62 459 (up from 21 335), Diane Monkey 241,060 (up from 122, 550), Red Colobus 232, 480 (up from 64,535), Chimpanzee 516 (up from 479). Elephants figures are down (estimated at 89 down from 180), but this could be explained by the survey set up, as certain inundated areas were not sampled. Increasing encounter rates of Maxwell Duikers in the previously heavily hunted eastern part of the park seem a good indication that hunting pressure has started to diminish. Pygmy hippos, a key species in this property, are also reported to be more common, but no comparison to previous data is provided. Encounter rates for certain species seem low, in particular Bongo and Buffalo, but no further analysis of these data is provided.
The State Party also reported that satellite images showed a good forest cover. However, this analysis is based on 2004 images and therefore, it is recommended to update this analysis based on more recent images.
c) Clarification of the boundaries of the property
The boundaries of the World Heritage property, the National Parks in the area and the Man and Biosphere Reserve, appear to be unclear to the local communities. The State Party has authorised OIPR through Article n°9 of law n°2002-102 relating to the demarcation, management and financing of national parks and natural reserves to redefine the boundaries of several national parks, including Taï. OIPR has submitted revised boundaries for the Taï National Park for adoption to the National Authorities. The new national park includes the N’Zo Faunal Reserve and its buffer zone comprising an area of 536,000 ha, compared to 330,000 ha for the property.
d) Expansion of activities with neighbouring communities: partnership, socio-economic and education
The recovery of certain species of wildlife and the gradual reduction in poaching pressure suggest the success of socio-economic and education activities implemented with neighbouring communities. However, previous reports have noted high population growth and levels of poverty on the periphery of the property. The report notes that a support group for measures with neighbouring communities, ‘Cellule d’Appui aux mesures riveraines’ (CAM), has been established to manage support in the periphery of the property. It is responsible for developing the project proposals from the neighbouring communities. In 2008, 87 revenue-generating and community micro-projects were financed for a total of 171 070 206 Francs CFA. The State Party further collaborates with NGO’s to raise awareness of the local population and authorities on the importance of sustainable management of wildlife resources.
e) International cooperation and sustainable financing
Over the last two decades, the State Party has received assistance from the German development agencies KfW/GTZ and WWF on surveillance and ecotourism, equipment, and capacity-building of park staff. This project will end in September 2009 and it is unclear what international support will be available after this period. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation continues to assist in wildlife surveys and research and awareness-raising on chimpanzees in particular. The Business Plan of Tai National Park mentions that the State Party has progressively increased funding to the property. For the period 2008-2012 the government funding currently covers only 50% of recurrent costs of the park. However, the State Party established in 2002 the Foundation for Reserves and Parks of Cote d’Ivoire (FPRCI) to provide additional funding and to ensure sustainable financial support for the functional operations of national parks and reserves in Côte d'Ivoire.
f) Eco-tourism activities
The reports mentions the creation of a visitor centre inside the park. No information is provided on the recommendation of the 2006 monitoring mission to develop an ecotourism strategy.
The State Party report does not provide information on other recommendations including progress in assessing the feasibility of ecological corridors, and expanding research to include the functioning of the ecosystem.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome the progress made by the State Party in addressing threats and management issues in the property. Indications of a recovery of wildlife population are very encouraging. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are recommending to continue the ecological monitoring activities to confirm these trends. Although anti-poaching and other measures seem to be having a positive impact, monitoring results also reveal that animal traps are found all over the property. Hence, while poaching may be reducing, it continues to remain a significant management issue requiring continued vigilance. Pressure on the integrity of the property remains important. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to continue efforts to implement the management plan and sustainable financing strategy for the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN also welcome the efforts of the State Party to clarify the boundaries and zoning of the property and enlarge the National Park. They recommend the State Party to evaluate, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN these changes in the boundaries of the property, by proposing an extension, in accordance with the Operational Guidelines. If proposed, such an extension would probably best be designed to exclude areas of the previous buffer zone that are under a multiple use regime.