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Niokolo-Koba National Park

Senegal
Factors affecting the property in 2007*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Translocated species
  • Water infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Capture and relocation of wildlife;

b) Road construction.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2007
Requests approved: 7 (from 1982-2004)
Total amount approved : 147,125 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

From 21 to 27 January 2007, a joint UNESCO/IUCN monitoring mission visited the property, as requested by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006). The State Party did not submit a further report but accompanied and made available all necessary information and documents to the mission team.

The mission reviewed the following threats impacting the state of conservation of the property:

a) Poaching and impact on wildlife populations

The mission noted that the most significant threat to the OUV of the property is commercial poaching for the bushmeat trade. The mission reviewed the results of a detailed census of wildlife populations, carried out by the African Parks Foundation (APF) in 2006. The census recorded poaching throughout the property and revealed a dramatic decline of key species from 1990 to 2006. Populations of hartebeest, buffalo, kob, waterbuck and roan had all declined by more than 90% compared to a population census of 1990/91. Elephants, which at the time of inscription of the property on the World Heritage List were estimated to number in the hundreds, have declined by 66% from 30 to a maximum of 10 individuals. The population of Giant Eland, of which the park harbours the only remaining viable population for the western race, seems to be stable and estimated around 171 individuals, although this figure might not be reliable as it is based on a single sighting of a herd of 67 animals.

b) Illegal logging of Borassus palm and other trees

The Borassus palm is a highly valued tree, providing durable timber, palm wine and products from its fruit and leaf fibres. The tree is harvested extensively in the park, impacting one of the principle habitats. Recovery will be problematic, as its regeneration depends on elephants, which are on the verge of extinction.

 

c) Grazing by domestic animals

During the census, 6,000 domestic animals (cattle, sheep and goats) were counted, outnumbering the 2,115 large and medium sized wild ungulates. Grazing by domestic animals together with the presence and impact of the herders poses a significant threat to the integrity of the property.

d) Habitat Degradation

Habitat degradation is driven mainly by the use of fire by poachers and pastoralists leading to degradation of forest areas. The seasonally flooded grasslands, which provide a source of water in the dry season, are at risk due to bush encroachment as numbers of large mammal populations are insufficient to prevent woody growth. Agricultural encroachment remains limited but can be observed in some areas along the periphery of the park where the boundary has not been demarcated.

e) Dam construction

The proposed dam on the Gambia River at Mako, a few kilometres upstream from the property, threatens the seasonally flooded grasslands needed to sustain wildlife during the dry season. The dam would also affect the seasonal dynamics of wildlife distribution due to the river becoming impassable as a result of the constant flow from the Dam.

f) Road construction

Two road developments are impacting the park. The Tambacounda to Kedougou road, which was upgraded in the mid-1990s, bisects the property creating a barrier to wildlife and easy access to poachers. A proposed alternative route north of the park, which had been recommended by the 15th session of the Bureau in 1991, was unfortunately not realized.

At its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the Committee also requested information on a second proposed road project linking Medina Gounas in Senegal with Koundara in Guinea. The mission was informed of the EIA which was undertaken and the route chosen which takes the road away from the boundary of the park. The mission therefore considered that this road which is currently under construction no longer is a major threat to the park.

The mission also reviewed the management of the property. It noted that the high standards of management of the property, which existed at the time of its inscription on the World Heritage List, had not been sustained, despite the best efforts of the Department of National Parks and recent support from the donor community. The park’s location close to international borders, regional insecurity and the proliferation of automatic weapons during the 80s and 90s resulted in unrelenting poaching pressure at a time when park budgets and staffing levels were being cut. Furthermore, the park has not yet gained the trust and support of local communities, many of whom were evicted from park lands when it was established, and still feel alienated. For many years there was a progressive deterioration in park infrastructure, withdrawal of staff from critical security posts, and general deterioration in management capacity.

A significant recent development has been the invitation by the State Party to the Dutch-based NGO the African Parks Foundation (APF) to conclude a partnership arrangement for conservation of the property. Based on an extensive needs assessment, APF submitted a proposal for the establishment of a new autonomous foundation to oversee management of the park under a 25-year contract.

Discussions and identification of funding sources are on-going, and have already led to the development of a three- year emergency rehabilitation plan. However, additional and adequate sources of funding remain to be found.

In the mean time, the Department of National Parks has made significant changes in its management operations at the park level. Staffing levels have been doubled over the past three years, staff has been re-deployed to the field, salaries and operational budgets have been substantially increased; and several new vehicles deployed to help with anti-poaching patrols.

The mission concluded that the integrity of the property had suffered a dramatic decline since its inscription on the World Heritage List. Unless remedial actions are taken urgently, further degradation would lead to an irreversible loss of the values for which the property was inscribed. The mission therefore concluded that the property be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The mission further noted that any further extinctions within the property, as well as the construction of the Mako dam without adequate provisions to mitigate its impact on the flooding regime and the hydrological cycles in the park, would result in the loss of its Outstanding Universal Value and could lead to deletion of the property from the World Heritage List.

The mission further proposed a series of urgent corrective measures to secure the property, including urgent actions to be implemented in the next 12 months and the development and implementation of a 3 year emergency action plan. These are included in the draft Decision. The mission considers that if these actions are implemented, recovery of the values could be well under way within 5 years and hence, proposed the following indicators of recovery:

(i) a 90% reduction in the number of signs of human activity encountered within the park;

(ii) an extension of the area in which signs of large ungulates are encountered, from the present 34% to 85% of the area of the park;

(iii) an increase in counts of all species of larger ungulate for three consecutive years; and

(iv) a reduction in animal flight distances along selected sections of road in the park interior.

The State Party in a letter dated 27 March 2007 confirmed its agreement with the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

In addition, IUCN and the World Heritage Centre have learnt from international media reports in February 2007 that the State Party has signed a mining agreement with Arcelor Mittal to operate in the Faleme region in which the property is located. The State Party is requested to provide information on its plans relating to mining in the region, in particular the location of any prospecting, exploration or exploitation surrounding the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2007
31 COM 7B.1
State of conservation of World Heritage Properties - Niokolo-Koba National Park

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.1, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.Notes with utmost concern the degradation of the property and the imminent threats to its Outstanding Universal Value, in particular the critically low mammal populations, the ongoing management problems and the impacts of the proposed construction of a new dam on the Gambia river a few kilometres upstream of the park;

4.Welcomes the initiative by the State Party and the African Parks Foundation to start discussions on an innovate public-private partnership for the conservation of the property;

5.Urges the State Party to develop and start the implementation of an emergency action plan to address urgent threats to the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property. The action plan developed recently by the African Parks Foundation is an excellent basis for this plan;

6.Further urges the State Party to implement within the next 12 months the following urgent corrective actions:

     a)Implement urgent steps to halt poaching, using the Department of National Park's aircraft for surveillance, with ground support provided by a mobile ‘strike force';

     b)Provide urgent training to the newly-recruited staff in the park, focussing on park security procedures and general ‘orientation' to integrated management approaches;

     c)Survey and demarcate the park boundary;

     d)Explore the possibility of creating boreholes outside the Park to minimize illegal movements of livestock and local population inside the Park in search of water;

     e)Introduce a long-term moratorium on the hunting of giant eland, and also a hunting quota system in buffer areas surrounding the park based on reliable animal census statistics;

     f)Modify the park ecological monitoring programme to focus on a limited number of indicators and benchmarks which can be measured in a cost effective manner;

7.Also requests the State Party to implement the following additional urgent measures:

     a)Prioritise conservation of the property in national policy, planning and budgets, and take pro-active measures to solicit donor support for managementof the property;

     b)Develop Species Survival Plans for Giant Eland, Elephant, Hartebeest and Chimpanzee and other threatened species in close collaboration with international experts, including the relevant parts of the IUCN Species Survival Commission;

     c)Enhance trans-boundary co-operation, and measures to protect buffer zones and ecological corridor areas outside the park;

     d)Revise the 2000 Management Plan, and begin implementation of the revised plan.

8.Further urges the State Party to reconsider its plans to build a new dam on the Gambia river at Mako, and to explore other alternatives, as it could alter the hydrological regime in the property and lead to the loss of its Outstanding Universal Value;

9.Encourages the State Party to urgently submit an international assistance request to address some of the above corrective actions;

10.Calls on international donors to provide funding for the implementation of the emergency action plan currently being developed by the State party and the African Parks Foundation;

11.Further requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 a report on the state of conservation of the property, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, a draft statement of desired state of conservation, progress in implementing the emergency action plan and the corrective measures mentioned above, together with information on the current status of the proposed dam on the Gambia river as well as any potential mining activities in the region, for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008;

12.Decides to inscribe Niokolo Koba National Park (Senegal) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

13.Further notes that any further significant wildlife extinctions from the property, as well as the construction of the Mako dam without adequate provisions to mitigate its impact on the flooding regime and the hydrological cycles in the park could result in the loss of its Outstanding Universal Value and could lead to a deletion of the property from the World Heritage List.

31 COM 8C.1
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List in Danger

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/7B, WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add and WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add.2) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/8B.Add.Rev),

2. Decides to inscribe the following property on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • Ecuador, Galápagos Islands (Decision 31 COM 7B.35)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 31 COM 8B.23)
  • Senegal, Niokolo Koba National Park (Decision 31 COM 7B.1)
31 COM 8C.11
Update of the list of the World Heritage in danger - inscription - Galápagos Islands, Samarra Archaeological City, Niokolo Koba National Park

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/7B, WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add and WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add.2) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/8B.Add.Rev),

2.Decides to inscribe the following property on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

  • Ecuador, Galápagos Islands (Decision 31 COM 7B.35)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 31 COM 8B.23)
  • Senegal, Niokolo Koba National Park (Decision 31 COM 7B.1)
Draft Decision: 31 COM 7B.1

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.1, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3. Notes with utmost concern the degradation of the property and the imminent threats to its Outstanding Universal Value, in particular the critically low mammal populations, the ongoing management problems and the impacts of the proposed construction of a new dam on the Gambia river a few kilometres upstream of the park;

4. Welcomes the initiative by the State Party and the African Parks Foundation to start discussions on an innovate public-private partnership for the conservation of the property;

5. Urges the State Party to develop and start the implementation of an emergency action plan to address urgent threats to the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property. The action plan developed recently by the African Parks Foundation is an excellent basis for this plan;

6. Further urges the State Party to implement within the next 12 months the following urgent corrective actions:

a) Implement urgent steps to halt poaching, using the Department of National Park’s aircraft for surveillance, with ground support provided by a mobile ‘strike force’;

b) Provide urgent training to the newly-recruited staff in the park, focussing on park security procedures and general ‘orientation’ to integrated management approaches;

c) Survey and demarcate the park boundary;

d) Explore the possibility of creating boreholes outside the Park to minimize illegal movements of livestock and local population inside the Park in search of water;

e) Introduce a long-term moratorium on the hunting of giant eland, and also a hunting quota system in buffer areas surrounding the park based on reliable animal census statistics;

f) Modify the park ecological monitoring programme to focus on a limited number of indicators and benchmarks which can be measured in a cost effective manner;

7. Also requests the State Party to implement the following additional urgent measures:

a) Prioritise conservation of the property in national policy, planning and budgets, and take pro-active measures to solicit donor support for managementof the property;

b) Develop Species Survival Plans for Giant Eland, Elephant, Hartebeest and Chimpanzee and other threatened species in close collaboration with international experts, including the relevant parts of the IUCN Species Survival Commission;

c) Enhance trans-boundary co-operation, and measures to protect buffer zones and ecological corridor areas outside the park;

d) Revise the 2000 Management Plan, and begin implementation of the revised plan.

8. Further urges the State Party to reconsider its plans to build a new dam on the Gambia river at Mako, and to explore other alternatives, as it could alter the hydrological regime in the property and lead to the loss of its Outstanding Universal Value;

9. Encourages the State Party to urgently submit an international assistance request to address some of the above corrective actions;

10. Calls on international donors to provide funding for the implementation of the emergency action plan currently being developed by the State party and the African Parks Foundation;

11. Further requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 a report on the state of conservation of the property, progress in implementing the emergency action plan and the corrective measures mentioned above, together with information on the current status of the proposed dam on the Gambia river as well as any potential mining activities in the region, for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008;

12. Decides to inscribe Niokolo Koba (Senegal) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

13. Further notes that any further significant wildlife extinctions from the property, as well as the construction of the Mako dam without adequate provisions to mitigate its impact on the flooding regime and the hydrological cycles in the park would result in the loss of its Outstanding Universal Value and could lead to a deletion of the property from the World Heritage List

Report year: 2007
Senegal
Date of Inscription: 1981
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
Danger List (dates): 2007-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 31COM (2007)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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