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Project site - The W-Arly-Pendjari Parks Complex

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The W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) Parks Complex straddles the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger, and is one of the largest contiguous protected areas in Africa (31,000 km2 area, or 50,000 km2 if riparian areas are included). The "W" portion of the Complex's name comes from the angular "W" path followed by the Niger River as it flows through the northern foothills of Benin's Atakora Mountains. The WAP Parks Complex is a mix of terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic ecosystems and home to more than half of West Africa's elephant population. Furthermore, WAP is the only natural refuge remaining for most of the vulnerable and/or threatened animal species in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The W-Arly-Pendjari Parks Complex© 2010 AU-IBAR. The W-Arly-Pendjari Parks Complex

Areas surrounding parts of the WAP Complex are undergoing significant land-use and land-cover changes. One of the most striking examples of change is in northern Benin and Eeastern Burkina Faso, where the growth of the so-called "cotton belt" has markedly altered the natural vegetation over the last decade. The riparian areas of the Complex are almost completely converted into agricultural lands, reducing biodiversity and increasing potential contact between humans and wildlife. As the availability of natural resources in non-protected areas dwindles, the protected areas, as the sole remaining repository of fuelwood, forage, and wildlife in the region, are increasingly becoming a focus for poaching, illegal cattle grazing, and other human activities that impact on the sustainability of this part of the WAP Complex.