The savannas, forests, and wetlands of the Sudano-Sahel region form the core belt of the Sudano-Sahelian zone, supporting key populations of endangered savanna and forest elephant, northern giraffe (the Kordofan, Nubian, and Peralta subspecies), lion, wild dog, giant and common eland, chimpanzee, gorilla, bongo, giant forest hog, and the second largest antelope migration on the planet. Hundreds of bird species occur in the area, including shoebill and crowned crane. Communities also depend on the land for their livelihoods through pastoralism, agriculture, fishing, and hunting.
The poaching of elephants for ivory and meat, including by organized, heavily armed groups, is one of the biggest challenges facing the region. Others include the commercial bushmeat trade, deforestation due to expanding agriculture, charcoal production, poorly managed extractive industry (including mining, logging, oil), pollution, and poorly planned infrastructure development (such as roads, pipelines, and dams). It also faces extremely weak governance, low technical capacity, and high levels of corruption.
The Sudano-Sahel Region, which includes Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Ethiopia, presents unparalleled opportunities for WCS to play a direct role in saving some of the last remaining intact wildernesses on the planet and to contribute significantly to the security of people and wildlife.
How Will We Get There?
To help do this, we are employing some core strategies:
Utilizing partnerships for protected area creation and management.
Creating full-chain wildlife law enforcement programs.
Crafting and effecting sustainable landscape-scale planning and management.
Developing conservation-security partnerships which explicitly contribute to the security of both people and wildlife.
Improving the well-being of the people living in and around the sites in which we work.
Working with government and international partners to mainstream green development strategies and approaches.
WCS has a significant presence in Sudano-Sahel region, with a strong conservation history and proven success in protected area management. We work actively to support local livelihoods, develop conservation-security partnerships, enhance anti-trafficking activities, and to implement our policy and scientific programs.
The Sudano-Sahel region includes some of the most progressive and effective country programs in WCS's Global Conservation portfolio, and WCS's legacy there dates back to the 1970s. The program includes several of WCS's key long-term, site-based programs in Africa (including Mbam & Djerem National Park in Cameroon and the Boma and Badingilo National Parks in South Sudan). WCS is also developing a number of pioneering conservation management models, including private-public partnerships for protected area management; community conservancies; conservation-security partnerships; landscape-scale, integrated law enforcement approaches; and engagement with extractive industries.
With partners, WCS currently supports the management of nine protected areas in four countries with four more protected areas in two additional countries in development. All told, these cover a total estimated 105,770 sq. km., encompassing some of the largest and most intact wilderness areas left on earth, including Africa's largest wetland, and vast savannas and woodland areas.
WCS is actively building community-based conservation partnerships at 10 sites across the region.
On Our Strategies
Utilizing partnerships for protected area creation and management
This comes through private-public management partnerships, co-management, and/or technical support to protected area agencies and includes all aspects of protected area creation, planning, and adaptive management including law enforcement, infrastructure, research and monitoring, community cooperation, and innovative tourism development. It supports the establishment of a well-managed network of protected areas to form the cornerstone for long-term conservation, security, and development.
Creating full-chain wildlife law enforcement programs
This includes intelligence-led anti-poaching (including terrestrial and aerial surveillance), anti-trafficking (at landscape, national, transboundary levels), and legal follow up on prosecutions, to halt illegal wildlife poaching and trafficking and improve governance at local, national and international scales.
Crafting and effecting sustainable landscape-scale planning and management
This includes community-based resource management (such as fisheries, wildlife management, non-timber forest products) and alternative sustainable livelihoods partnerships; extractive industry best practice partnerships and certifications (timber, mining, oil); and partnerships with tourism operators. It also encompasses land-use planning with ecologically sound zoning, conflict mitigation strategies, set-asides, corridor establishment outside of protected areas, and road planning. Plus, this means climate change adaptation and mitigation programs and integrating human-wildlife health interface concerns in management interventions.
Developing conservation-security partnerships which explicitly contribute to the security of both people and wildlife
This includes the stabilization of remote insecure zones, creating security cooperation and information sharing agreements, partnerships between protected areas, local authorities, communities, and armed forces, and surveillance which detects and addresses threats to both human and wildlife security and mitigates conflicts. It means fostering good governance and stability and reducing conflict in remote areas which are susceptible to corruption, insecurity, and local and global threats (including banditry, terrorism, and insurgency development).
Improving the well-being of the people living in and around the sites in which we work
People depend on the savannas and forests of the Sudano-Sahel region for their water, culture, food, shelter, and livelihoods. We're looking to support them in three main ways:
Working at new scales and with new partners to improve food security. The single biggest threat to wildlife is trafficking (ivory, scales, skins) and the commercial bushmeat trade.
Piloting community-based management of wild places and the establishment and management of conservancies.
Aiding local communities in enhancing sustainable natural resource use practices (fisheries, Shea, Gum, etc.) and connecting them with viable markets.
Working with government and international partners to mainstream green development strategies and approaches
We aim to positively influence major infrastructure and macro development planning by providing scientific guidance and policy support. This includes influencing dam and hydro plant construction, major road development, and macro zoning plans for development projects in the countries of the Sudano-Sahel region. Also, we're working to promote "green" energy options to reduce pressures on natural resources and manage and reduce charcoal production.