Community Based Wildlife Management in West Africa: A regional review
Conservation policy in West Africa has been heavily influenced by both colonialism and the need to stem the exploitation of natural resources for commercial use. The report covers a range of projects from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. Key issues addressed include land tenure; politics; indigenous knowledge and community capacity; religious and cultural factors; the use of bushmeat; the role of the private sector; and the influence of conflicts and stability. ~Today, natural resource management is considered as a major economic development concern in West African countries. Some policy reforms in land use management, good governance, and specific legislation on sustainable use of resources have gained ground. In addition, political changes due to structural adjustment, democracy and international conventions, are pushing towards a general evolution of more decentralised strategies better integrated at the grassroots level. However, it is suggested that a move to CWM is prevented by not only a lack of conservation management, regional co-ordination and political commitment in the area, but also inadequate financial resources, limited potential for tourism, and situations of conflict with peripheral human populations. However, the most remarkable fact is the absence of an integrated vision of wildlife conservation and socio-economic development issues. ~Despite these constraints, the report remains optimistic that a new generation of projects, such as the land management projects (Burkina Faso) or natural resource management projects (Benin, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Gambia), have adopted more participatory approaches. As such, these can be used as examples on which to build a more productive alliance between key stakeholders and the conservation of natural resources in the area.