20 February 2012 - The Steering Committee of the
CMS Sahelo-Saharan Antelopes project in Niger met for the
third time in Niamey 16th February 2012 to review progress
regarding anti-poaching and the planned designation of Termit
as a nature reserve.
The Committee was chaired by Mr Mamadou
Manane, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Water and Environment.
The Committee is composed of members of the General Directorate
of Forests, regional environmental representatives, mayors
of the main communities of the Termit area, local NGOs,
the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), the EU Delegation in
Niger, UNDP and CMS. SCF is a strategic partner of CMS in
this project, both contributing to its implementation and
also co-financing some of the activities.
The area of Termit Tin Toumma harbors the
last wild population of addax in the world, as well as dama
and dorcas gazelles, Barbary sheep, cheetah, Arabian and
Nubian bustards, a breeding colony of lappet-faced vultures
and many other species of birds, mammals and reptiles.
The Steering Committee reviewed and validated
the activity report of 2011 and approved the budget and
action plan for 2012. The Project team presented the main
results of 2011 and highlighted the increase in poaching
and human disturbance related to the oil exploration activities
that are taking place in the eastern side of the area. The
construction of a pipeline and associated transport infrastructure
has increased the overall accessibility in the region as
well as the number of vehicles and people. Poachers mainly
target dorcas gazelle, but there is an increasing danger
that they could seek addax as well. The human presence in
the area has already caused the addax population to split
into two different groups, thus increasing the risk of extinction
of this critically endangered species.
Combating illegal hunting is one of the
project’s main priorities. Despite the difficulties
of working in the area the anti-poaching brigades have arrested
19 poachers and seized 37 carcasses of dorcas gazelles and
3 young gazelles. In October 2011 a network of poachers
was dismantled by the regional brigade of Zinder. With the
election of a community agent involved in the project as
Mayor of Ngourti, the Project will have a key ally in an
area seriously affected by poaching.
The Project has a social component which
includes support to the local schools, health campaigns
and restoration of the traditional wells. Almost 300 children
have been vaccinated and more than 400 patients were treated
in 2011. The closure of a well in the dama gazelle area
at the core of the Termit massif will prevent disturbance
to this species. A well has been restored in Dougoulé
instead, which will allow access to potable water to 300
families of nomads. Local communities appreciate these social
services which generates a very positive attitude towards
the wild species in the area.
Another key objective is the formal designation
of Termit as a nature reserve equivalent to Category 4 of
IUCN’s protected areas classification (Habitat/Species
Management Area). The process to designate the reserve is
very advanced and the authorities in Niger reassured the
Steering Committee that it is only a matter of weeks before
the file is presented to the Council of Ministers. The dossier
has been already examined by the different ministries and
some amendments have been introduced to modify the boundaries
of the reserve in order to exclude the area where oil has
been found, as well as some local communities towards the
south. Even with this reduction the future reserve will
have an area of 97,000 km2 which will make it one of the
largest protected areas in the African continent. With these
modifications it is expected that the dossier will be adopted
by the Council of Ministers without additional problems.
Conservation efforts of the Sahelo-Saharan
Antelopes Project focus on the area of Termit Tin Toumma,
one of the last hotspots of desert biodiversity in the region.
It consists of the Termit mountain massif and the adjacent
erg of Tin Toumma, which extends towards the east as far
as the border with Chad. It includes the regions of Zinder,
Diffa and Agadez and the communities of Tesker, Ngourti,
Tabelot, Fachi and Bilma.
The Termit project was initiated by CMS
and its partners in 2007 as part of the Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna
concerted action. At present the main donor is the European
Union and until 2010 the project also benefitted from funding
from the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement