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September 1, 2021


Categories: Press Releases

N’Djaména, Chad Monday 30th August 2021

Today, the Ministry of Environment, Fisheries, and Sustainable Development and the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) signed a US$5 million agreement to implement the ALBIÄ project: a word that appropriately means “environment” in local Arabic.

The ALBIÄ project will improve natural resource management and the livelihoods of the populations in climate-vulnerable areas in the vast 75,950 km2 Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve (OROAGR) in the central-north region of the Chadian Sahelo-Saharan zone. This award comprises part of the $54.5 million dollars awarded by the World Bank’s Board of Board of Executive Directors approved in June 2020. ALBIÄ is funded from International Development Association (IDA)* and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)**.

Over the next four and a half years, under a co-management agreement with the provincial and national authorities, SCF will improve the Reserve management, improve infrastructure through the construction offices for the government protected area administration, improve roads and communication across the remote reserve, seek to improve the control of fires, and support community participation in sustainable natural resources management. This project works in tandem with the livelihoods and climate adaptation project that will be implemented in the five Provinces surrounding the Reserve that is implemented by SOS Sahel.

John Watkin, CEO of SCF, said, “Managing an area the size of Scotland in central Chad requires significant financial resources. ALBIÄ is a vital compliment and expansion of the European Union funded Projet Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim to ensure that the Reserve is managed effectively for the benefit of local people and wildlife including the reintroduced scimitar-horned oryx, addax and North African ostrich”. Adding, “I would like to thank the honorable Minister Mr. Mahamat Ahmat Lazina for his considerable efforts in achieving this milestone to improve Chad’s natural resource management in the face of severe climate change impacts.

Since 2016, in conjunction with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), SCF has initiated a program of reintroducing the once extinct scimitar-horned oryx, reinforcing the population of addax through to number less than 100 individual remaining in the wild. Over the last six years 218 oryx have been returned to the wild where they have thrived and now number at least 350 free-living individuals. Similarly, since November 2019, 49-addax have been released reinforcing the tiny population less than 100 individuals in the region. The addax has also adapted admirably to their new home with several new calves being recorded.


*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.

**The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is an international financial mechanism with 176 member countries that addresses global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. The GEF’s grants support projects in developing countries related to biodiversity, climate change, international water, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. The GEF has been a driving force since its inception in 1991 to improve the lives of millions of people while creating the conditions for sustainable development. Its project portfolio is diverse, and, as with any investment portfolio, provides returns that vary over several time horizons. The GEF is a social entrepreneur, providing, for example, more than 10,000 small grants directly to community groups and other civil society organizations in 120 countries.


December 5, 2018


Categories: Press Releases

Eight West African Giraffe Travelled Over 800 Kilometres In 48 Hours To Be Safely Re-Introduced To The Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve In Niger, After An Absence Of Almost 50 Years.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Sahara Conservation Fund announce the safe re-introduction of eight highly threatened West African giraffe into Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve (recently listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO). In two trips of 48 hours each, two groups of four giraffe were translocated over 800 kilometres by truck to their new home. This is the first conservation effort of its kind in Niger, and for West African giraffe.

The world’s last remaining population of West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), a subspecies of the Northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), is restricted to the ‘Giraffe Zone’ in the Republic of Niger, an area approximately 60 kilometres south-east of the capital Niamey. Even though the ‘Giraffe Zone’ is not formally protected, it forms part of the W Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, covering more than 1,700 sqkm. These West African giraffe are an isolated population, with the closest population of giraffe being Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum) that live more than 2,000 kilometres away in northern Cameroon and southern Chad – also a subspecies of the Northern giraffe.

Operation Sahel Giraffe commenced in early November 2018, after a year of meticulous preparation. Eight giraffe were individually captured in the ‘Giraffe Zone’ and transferred to a holding pen (boma), where they were kept for more than three weeks to prepare them for the long journey. The eight giraffe were then transported in two groups of four, an arduous journey for both the giraffe and the team, before their successful release in Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve recently.

Almost 50 years ago, giraffe became locally extinct in the Gadabedji area because of drought and illegal hunting. Since 2013 Niger’s Wildlife Authority, with support from the Niger Fauna Corridor Project/UNDP, has worked diligently towards restoring the region’s wildlife and their habitat. The re-introduction of giraffe will further enrich the reserve’s biodiversity and contribute to increasing community development and support in the region.

“The Government of Niger has undertaken a significant effort to re-introduce giraffe back into the Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve. This is a major giraffe conservation success. The giraffe have not been seen in this area for more than 45 years due to a combination of illegal hunting, habitat loss and climate change. In the days immediately following the release, the giraffe have explored the reserve and its periphery. Local communities and traditional authorities provide updates of giraffe movements to the management unit of the reserve, highlighting their commitment to conserving giraffe in the region.” – says Lt Colonel Ali Laouel Abagana, Coordinator of the Niger Fauna Corridor Project/UNDP.

In the mid-1990s there were only 49 West African giraffe left in the wild, and as a result the subspecies was listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2008. Comprehensive conservation efforts by the Government of Niger, in collaboration with local and international partners, have triggered an amazing recovery of the West African giraffe population to over 600 individuals today. This positive trend resulted in the downlisting of West African giraffe to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List last month (November 2018).

“Increased conservation efforts using solid science and collaborative partnerships have been key for the re-introduction of West African giraffe in Gadabedji, setting a new benchmark for our efforts across the continent. More than a year of thorough planning has now culminated into Operation Sahel Giraffe: detailed habitat assessments, wildlife surveys, and community outreach and awareness in both their current and new/re-introduced range. Over the last few years, GCF has helped to (re-)introduce giraffe and augment populations in several historical ranges throughout the continent, and in turn helped to better conserve the habitat they live in. Here in Niger, we are one step closer to building a second West African giraffe population.” – says Dr Julian Fennessy, Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Throughout the entire continent, giraffe numbers have plummeted in the last three decades – a state of affairs that has been referred to as a ‘silent extinction’. Pressures including habitat loss and fragmentation, civil unrest and illegal hunting have reduced giraffe to less than 100,000 animals in all of Africa. This re-introduction of West African giraffe to their former range in Niger aims to establish a second viable population of the subspecies in support of their conservation in a healthy and well-managed ecosystem.

Once widespread throughout West Africa, including Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Nigeria, West African giraffe now only occur in Niger. In the ‘Giraffe Zone’ West African giraffe share their habitat with local communities, where they compete for space and resources. Their threats include agricultural encroachment, climate change and variability, human population growth, and natural resource over-exploitation. As a result of a growing giraffe population and increasing human population pressure, giraffe have started to migrate out of the ‘Giraffe Zone’. This movement out of the ‘Giraffe Zone’ finds the giraffe in conflict situations with human populations who are unaccustomed to their presence in Niger, and too close to the insecure border areas with Mali.

“We have been involved in the re-wilding of species across the Sahara and Sahel, and Operation Sahel Giraffe builds on these experiences. We are supporting governments to restore the historic large guild of iconic species in healthy ecosystems. This landscape approach to conservation is critical for the long-term sustainability of all species and the habitat on which they rely.” – says Dr Thomas Rabeil, Sahara Conservation Fund.

The team of Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Sahara Conservation Fund has worked collaboratively alongside Niger’s Ministry of Environment and local communities since 2005, supporting the conservation science and management of West African giraffe in Niger to secure their future. Since the late 2000s, Africa’s first-ever National Giraffe Conservation Strategy has guided giraffe conservation efforts in the country. Re-introducing West African giraffe into safe areas within their historical range is a key component of the National Strategy, which is expected to benefit both local communities and wildlife equally. This new founding population in Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve is a critical first step towards the reserve’s development as a flagship wildlife reserve in Niger.

Operation Sahel Giraffe has been a partnership between the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Sahara Conservation Fund, Niger’s Ministry of Environment, and the Niger Fauna Corridor Project/UNDP.

Valuable support was provided by Ivan Carter’s Wildlife Conservation Alliance, San Diego Zoo Global, Saint Louis Zoo, Born Free, and Prague University of Life Sciences. Further field support was provided by Dr Pete Morkel, Dr Philippe Chardonnet, Niger Directorate of Veterinary Services, Cheri Morkel, David O’Connor (San Diego Zoo Global), Dr Liza Dadone (Cheyenne Mountain Zoo), Andrea Bryant, and Sean Viljoen.