Wild Cat Species
— African Wildcat
— Niokolo Koba National Park
Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park is of outstanding global importance for the conservation of a whole suite of highly threatened, iconic wildlife species. It harbors one of the only four remaining populations of West African lions, a distinct genetic clade, and what is likely the largest remaining population of leopards in West Africa. Alongside the various big and small cat species such as serval, caracal and African wild cat, Niokolo-Koba harbors West Africa’s last surviving population of African wild dogs, the last wild population of the western giant eland and Africa’s northwesternmost populations of elephants and chimpanzees. However, heavy poaching over the past 30 years, illegal gold mining and premature drying up of water pans due to exotic plant invasion have taken a dramatic toll on the park.
Panthera was introduced to the area’s conservation potential in 2011 when the management authority the Direction of National Parks (DPN) invited us to conduct the park’s first-ever lion survey. Only 10-15 individuals remained in the park at the time, though it could likely harbor 200-250 individuals. We immediately understood that protection efforts in the park would not only benefit lions but a whole suite of threatened species, contributing to the realization of our main vision of restoring lions and other wildlife to the landscape’s natural carrying capacity.
We have built a strong working relationship with the government of Senegal, formalized through a long-term agreement with the DPN to strengthen park management and security. We provide direct support to ranger teams for effective large-scale patrols, the rebuilding and expansion of the park’s infrastructure and intensive ecological monitoring, including the intensive monitoring of lions using GPS-satellite collars. Program activities started in 2017 and in just a few years, our support model has resulted in the doubling of lion numbers, positive population trends for large prey, and the first elephant records in a decade. We have also rehabilitated more than 250 km of roads and we have created more than 40 km of new ones, as well as a new ranger post and operations base equipped with a hangar, airstrip and surveillance plane.
Chele Martinez Marti
Chele Martínez Martí
Operations and Surveillance Coordinator
Lang Halima Diedhiou
Assistant Surveillance Coordinator
Ndèye Nio Sow
Mouhamadou Modi Ndiaye
Field Technician for Wildlife Monitoring
Marine Drouilly, Ph.D.
Regional Monitoring Coordinator