Pendjari National Park is one of the most recent parks and the first within West Africa to fall under our management. The park is situated in the northwest Benin, spanning an area of 4,800 km2 it is a primary component of the larger 35,000km2 transnational W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) complex, which is spread across three countries: Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. This is the largest remaining intact ecosystem in West Africa and the last refuge for the region’s largest population of elephants and critically endangered West African lion, of which fewer than 400 adults remain and 100 live in Pendjari. Pendjari’s expansive landscape contains important wetlands which is critical for a number of local species including cheetahs, buffalo, various antelope species and more than 460 avian species.
However, the ecological integrity of this globally significant reserve has been facing major threats, including poaching, demographic pressure on surrounding land, and exponential resource erosion. But the Benin Government wanted to change this trajectory and chart a different path for this critically important landscape within their borders, with the aim of providing better protection for this landscape, and to realize the economic and social value of the park. In May 2017, African Parks signed a 10-year management mandate with the Government, and in January 2017 we forged a ground-breaking, US$23M partnership with the Government of Benin, National Geographic Society and the Wyss Foundation. Thanks to the progressiveness of the Benin Government, a lifeline was thrown to this little-known but globally important protected area.
Pendjari National Park (Parc National de la Pendjari) in Benin is known as the best place to spot wild animals in the whole region of West Africa. Although it cannot be rated as high as any other wild park in East Africa or South Africa in terms of density and diversity of wildlife, Pendjari National Park is worth visiting when traveling to Benin or neighbouring countries.