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Intensive cotton farming is leading to land degradation in the West African nation of Benin. The rivers, particularly in the southern part of the country, suffer from overfishing and energy and water extraction. Endangered species, such as the West African manatee, are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. It’s the same for migratory birds, such as the black tern.

Several national parks are located on the border with Niger and Burkina Faso. This savannah is the habitat for the most important population of West African lions. The national parks are relatively well protected.

IUCN NL has been working on developing civil society organisations in the southern part of Benin since 1993. We currently work in partnership with six nature conservation and environmental organisations, primarily on projects in two deltas. The capital city of Cotonou continues to spread into the hinterland and this is creating increasingly greater pressure on the delta on which the city is built. Species including hippopotamuses and manatees are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.

If the plans for a new port on the border with Nigeria go ahead, the cities of Cotonou and the Nigerian city of Lagos will grow into each other. The rivers, which are also used as transport routes for illegal petrol smuggling, cannot produce enough fish for both cities. The people of Benin eat primarily frozen fish from Europe. There are plans to build additional dams in order to provide the sprawling city with energy. Cotonou’s groundwater reserves are insufficient to meet the demand for drinking water and water collection is consequently becoming a growing problem.

The polluted rivers flow into the ocean. This section of ocean off the coast of Benin also happens to be the precise place where several species of whale have their young. One of IUCN NL’s partners focuses on protecting these species.


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