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Gabon hosts conference to promote human-wildlife coexistence


The Government of Gabon and the World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP) convened over 60 participants at the Lope National Park in central Gabon last week, to explore strategies and innovations to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

The 5-day conference which also brought together conservationists from 20 different countries around the world sought to explore potential approaches to encourage rural communities to promote coexistence where both human and wildlife populations can thrive.

For the Network of Protected Areas of Central Africa, the Congo Basin is primarily dependent on regional institutional arrangements for conservation, as well as the sustainable and concerted management of ecosystems.

Omer Ntougou, the Executive Secretary of the Network of Protected Areas of Central Africa (RAPAC) says: “On a much more political scale, our states must of course harmonize their information systems, our states must harmonize their laws, Our states must harmonize the management of cross-border areas because animals circulate between countries.”

Inspired by a Kenyan experience, in order to solve what is called the human-wildlife conflict, Gabon is installing electrical barriers with antennas around animal parks. This is good news for the local communities as Line Henriette Basiba, a farmer living in the Lope park says.

“We were suffering before the barrier, we were suffering, as soon as we saw that, we went to the conservation authorities and demonstrated in front of their offices. We told them we wont be moved unless something was done, we were furrious and had suffered with hunger. But now that the barrier has come, we are now comfortable,“he says.

Global Wildlife Programmer

The GWP is a $131 million global partnership on wildlife conservation, crime prevention and sustainable development funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It consists of 19 national projects across Africa and Asia that aim to reduce poaching, trafficking and demand of wildlife. Gabon’s $9.05 million Wildlife and Human-Elephant Conflict Management project will be launched at the conference. It includes Implementing strategies and solutions that support integrated landscape management, and mitigating HWC in southern Gabon, in order to secure the future of forest elephants in Central Africa and boost Gabon’s rural economy.

“The choice of Gabon for this important conference could not have been better as Gabonese forests cover 88% of the country and are one of the last strongholds for the forest elephant, which is declining at the alarming rate of about 9% per year due to poaching. Under constant threat from poachers, elephants are migrating south and run into conflict with village communities,” said Claudia Sobrevila, the GWP’s Program Manger.

As the competition for natural resources grows, changes to forested landscapes result in habitat loss and fragmentation putting endangered wildlife such as elephants, lions, and primates at a great risk.

The Lope national Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and is home to numerous elephant and buffalo species.

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