Aerial surveillance of Comoé national Park (CNP)
From October to December 2023, Aviation Sans Frontières Belgium carried out a new mission to strengthen the skills of ULM pilots from the Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves (OIPR).
The two pilots benefited from the sharing of experience from Stéphane Carré for the “maintenance and piloting” aspects, then from Xavier Vincke for the “aerial photography for aerial wildlife inventories, monitoring and mapping” aspects. This, in partnership with the University of Liège, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech and the Airbus Foundation.
Thanks to the good progress of the pilots and their sufficient autonomy, overflights for the needs of the rangers and ecological monitoring have begun, with very encouraging first results.
Considerable progress has, for example, been made in the fight against illegal gold panning in the Park and aerial wildlife inventories. Strategic meetings with stakeholders within the OIPR and the partner GISAction made it possible to move forward in defining the PNC ULM Development Strategy.
Also, photos of elephants were taken by OIPR pilots on aerial patrol. The presence of numerous young individuals in the photos attests that the herd is not subject to strong poaching pressure. West African elephants are particularly threatened and their population was estimated at 200 individuals in the Comoé national Park following the 2022 aerial inventory. With an area of 1,148,150 hectares, it is very difficult to meet them on the ground.
The Comoé national Park is already seeing the numbers of its flagship animal species increase from 2016 to date, as evidenced by the results of aerial inventories in 2016, 2019 and 2022.
This development attests to the positive management of the site by the OIPR. The effective start of surveillance of the park with this first ULM and the upcoming arrival of a second Bat Hawk ULM, suggests a spectacular evolution of the fauna of this UNESCO World Heritage site in the years to come, for the good, in particular, of the precious elephants of the Park.