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Socio-economic implications of crop-raiding around Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, northern Benin

Sylvain Efio, Etotépé A. Sogbohossou, Yves Z. Magnon, Marcel R.B. Houinato, Rigobert C. Tossou

University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin, West Africa

Human-wildlife conflict is becoming a serious threat to both wildlife conservation and human wellbeing. Its main representations are livestock predation and crop-raiding. This paper examines the problem of crop-raiding by wildlife and its socio-economic implications around Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in northern Benin. Data were collected in 2017 through field observations, semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire survey of 209 farmers of the surrounding villages of the Reserve and 98% of them reported losses of the crop every year due to wildlife. Crops with the highest degree of destruction are cotton, maize, millet, and sorghum and the wild animals responsible for this are mainly baboons, warthogs, and elephants. Crop raiding causes, for an average farmer, an annual financial cost ranging from 94.64$ in farms of sorghum to 311.8$ in farms of cotton. Compared to the annual minimum salary in Benin, these numbers are very large. Farmers try to manage the impacts of crop-raiding with various dissuasive methods such as guarding. But the heavy toll of crop-raiding and the low level of effectiveness of mitigation measures clearly reveal the vulnerability of agricultural households bordering protected areas.

Implications socio-économiques des pillages de cultures autour de la réserve de biosphère de Pendjari, nord du Bénin

Sylvain Efio, Etotépé A. Sogbohossou, Yves Z. Magnon, Marcel R.B. Houinato, Rigobert C. Tossou

Université d'Abomey-Calavi, Bénin, Afrique de l'Ouest

Le conflit homme-faune devient une menace sérieuse à la fois pour la conservation de la faune et le bien-être humain. Ses principales représentations sont la prédation du bétail et les attaques de cultures. Cet article examine le problème des ravages des cultures par la faune et ses implications socio-économiques autour de la réserve de biosphère de Pendjari dans le nord du Bénin. Les données ont été collectées en 2017 grâce à des observations sur le terrain, des entretiens semi-structurés et une enquête par questionnaire auprès de 209 agriculteurs des villages environnants de la réserve et 98% d’entre eux ont signalé des pertes de récolte chaque année en raison de la faune. Les cultures les plus destructrices sont le coton, le maïs, le millet et le sorgho et les animaux sauvages qui en sont responsables sont principalement les babouins, les phacochères et les éléphants. Les pillages de cultures entraînent, pour un agriculteur moyen, un coût financier annuel allant de 94,64 $ dans les exploitations de sorgho à 311,8 $ dans les exploitations de coton. Comparés au salaire minimum annuel au Bénin, ces chiffres sont très importants. Les agriculteurs tentent de gérer les impacts des incursions de cultures avec diverses méthodes dissuasives telles que la protection. Mais le lourd tribut des pillages des cultures et le faible niveau d’efficacité des mesures d’atténuation révèlent clairement la vulnérabilité des ménages agricoles bordant les zones protégées.

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7 Responses

  1. Thank you Sylvain. Having a 30% loss of crops due to crop raiding is quite an important consequence of successful preservation of wildlife in a Biosphere Reserve. Is the Reserve involved in finding solutions to this problem? Does the Reserve gain additional revenues due to their successful wildlife program, and if so could some of those gains be shared with farmers who experience losses from crop raiding?

    1. Thank you for your interest in my presentation and for your question. To answer, I can say that local residents lose an important part of their agricultural production every year. The Reserve managers are involved in the management of the problem but their actions are limited mainly to sensitizing the residents with a view to the implementation of measures to protect their production. A few rare actions to identify and compensate victims are observed sometimes. Also the compensation is selective; only the damages of certain large animals such as elephants and lions are compensated with external funding through a project and as soon as the project is finished, the peasants are left to fend for themselves.

  2. Hello and thank you Sylvain for your presentation in English even though you had possibility to converse in French too 🙂
    Maybe my question is not directly related to your work but can you tell me what impact the security risk has on farming or the harvest level near the Penjari and W parc. I think this comes as another threat to farming activities for neighboring population.
    Best regards.
    Koffi Alinon
    CIRAD

    1. Désolé pour le niveau de mon anglais… je ne savais pas que je pouvais présenter en français; c’aurait été plus facile pour moi. C’est bien après que j’ai su.
      Concernant votre question, je peux dire que les dégâts des animaux sauvages dans les champs des populations riveraines de la Pendjari impactent tout le cycle de production; du semis à la récolte. Ceci induit des changements dans le système de production tels que le ressemis et la surveillance des champs qui constituent des coûts supplémentaires de production. Du stade de la maturation à la récolte, certains paysans vont s’installer dans les champs pendant plusieurs semaines sous des huttes pour surveiller leur champ la nuit. Ils dorment ainsi dans de mauvaises conditions, exposés aux attaques des animaux sauvages, aux moustiques et risquent des maladies comme le paludisme, une maladie fréquente en Afrique et au Bénin. Malgré les mesures qu’ils prennent, ces riverains perdent en moyenne 30% de leur production agricole annuelle. Tout ceci vient accentuer le niveau de vulnérabilité de ces populations déjà soumises aux problèmes de manque de terre, d’infertilité des sols et des effets des changements climatiques.
      Je m’intéresse à cet aspect de vulnérabilité des ménages agricoles riverains de Pendjari dans le cadre de ma thèse
      Merci

  3. Thank you for your interest in my presentation and for your question. To answer, I can say that local residents lose an important part of their agricultural production every year. The Reserve managers are involved in the management of the problem but their actions are limited mainly to sensitizing the residents with a view to the implementation of measures to protect their production. A few rare actions to identify and compensate victims are observed sometimes. Also the compensation is selective; only the damages of certain large animals such as elephants and lions are compensated with external funding through a project and as soon as the project is finished, the peasants are left to fend for themselves.

  4. This is a very good presentation, Sylvain. It might be a good idea to also see what some countries such as Zambia (with challenges) have tried to incorporate the local communities to benefit from wildlife. See Inonge’s presentation in this web conference.

    You dwelt a lot on crop destruction. Do you have loss of human life especially with guarding being the preferred method of protecting crops?

  5. Dear Evaristo, thank you for your interest in my presentation and your contributions. I’ll watch Inonge’s presentation. Regarding your question, we often note cases of injuries but cases of death are rare and go back 10-15 years later

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