Evaluation Mission of the Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves
The Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1992, in particular because of the impact of armed conflict. This project aimed to:
- assess the stocks of wildlife of the Reserves, particularly large and small mammals and birds;
- assess the status of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
- develop recommendations on urgent actions to be undertaken.
The species census took place for 12 days in June 2014. It confirmed that the Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves still possess Outstanding Universal Value, whether in terms of landscape or of wildlife characteristic of Saharan areas and living there. A total of 14 large mammal species and 55 bird species were counted and their status is not a concern, except for the species mentioned below.
Among the important findings, the mission noted the very low probability of the presence of the Addax. The low number of Nubian Bustards is also worrying. The populations of Barbary Sheeps and Dorcas Gazelle, though still well represented, are also vulnerable. On the other hand, the results for the Dama Gazelle, recently classified by IUCN as Critically Endangered, are encouraging; but more in-depth knowledge on its distribution and density is necessary in order to implement appropriate conservation measures.
The main recommendations are to
- curb commercial poaching on motorcycles and to a lesser extent on all-terrain vehicles;
- check the proliferation of invasive plants (Prosopis juliflora and especially the Calotropis procera);
- remove the carcasses of vehicles and other military debris to preserve the integrity of the site. In general, it is essential to demine all risk areas;
- monitor the passage of miners through the reserve, the latter being on the road leading to Agadez.
Finally, it is noteworthy that the State of Niger and the local populations of the Air have greatly improved the security situation; this mission was an obvious example of reconciliation since military, foresters and former rebels were involved with the aim of safeguarding the natural heritage of Niger.