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Aerial Inventory Report - COMOE National Park

8 December 2022

Under contract with AHT Group, Aviation Sans Frontières Belgium provides technical support to the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves by air: plane, microlight and drone.

Aviation Sans Frontières participated in the organisation and the smooth running of this inventory of the large fauna of the Comoé National Park in March-April 2022 and participated with the University of Liège -Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech in the writing of the report.

Due to the politico-military crisis in Ivory Coast  (2002 – 2011), the diversity and abundance of fauna in the country's national parks have been greatly disrupted.

This report presents the results of the aerial inventory of the large and medium mammalian fauna of the Comoé National Park (PNC) and the Waringué biodiversity zone adjoining the park, in the north-east of Côte d'Ivoire, performed in March-April 2022 for the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves.

Elephants (Loxodonta africana) ©Julie Linchant

With an area of ​​1,148,756 hectares, the PNC is one of the largest protected areas in sub-Saharan West Africa.

Comoe River © Xavier Vincke

The two previous reports, dating from 2016 and 2019, present encouraging results with the presence of most of the large mammals and antelopes of the sub-Saharan wooded savannahs and increasing numbers.

Western hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus major) ©Xavier Vincke

In total, 19 mammal species targeted by the 2022 inventory were observed. Encounter rates over 100 km or Kilometric Abundance Indexes (IKA) have almost all increased compared to 2019.

Buffalos (Alcelaphus buselaphus major) ©Xavier Vincke

For the most common species, namely hartebeest, buffalo, Buffon's waterbuck and antelope, IKAs increased by more than 50% between 2019 and 2022. Despite a slightly lower sampling effort in 2022, these results remain encouraging.

Antilopes (Kobus kob kob) ©Xavier Vincke

This inventory was also marked by the observation of 3 large herds of elephants. During the last two inventories, only traces and 2 individuals had been observed. A total of about 73 individuals have been sighted in 2022, suggesting a still viable population in CNP.

Roan antelopes (Hippotragus equinus koba) ©Xavier Vincke

The 2022 inventory also detected illegal anthropogenic activities still very present within the park (gold panning, poaching, etc.). The situation is particularly worrying for gold extraction in the PNC, on a very large scale.

Gold mine © Alexis Peltier

These anthropogenic activities seem to explain why the majority of mammals targeted by this inventory are concentrated in the southwestern part of the PNC, near the Comoé River. It is important to take urgent measures to put an end to these anthropogenic activities in the PNC, by intensifying patrols, setting up permanent bases for the armed brigades inside the PNC, maintaining the network of vehicle tracks in the PNC and by developing aerial surveillance in microlights, combined with ground patrols.

Poachers camp © Alexis Peltier

The situation of the biodiversity zone of Warigué seems to have deteriorated. Anthropogenic pressures are greater and the presence of wildlife much lower than in 2019, with only three contacts with large and medium-sized mammals during this 2022 inventory. It is urgent to take measures to secure this migration corridor between the PNC and the protected areas of Burkina-Faso, very important especially for elephants.

The full report is available here : Rapport inventaire Parc National Comoé 2022