Africa's largest reserve established in Niger

12th March 2012

The Niger government has formally created the Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve in the Sahara Desert

Niger's new nature and cultural reserve is 100,000km² large, approximately the size of Hungary and twice the area of Costa Rica. The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF)  reported the formal establishment of the Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature and  Cultural Reserve on 6 March.

The inclusion of both 'natural' and 'cultural' within its title highlights the fundamental important of implementing a strategy of coexistence, whereby a sustainable relationship between people and ecology is formed.

The SCF underlined this in a statement calling the reserve: "a vast new protected area whose management will benefit both wildlife and local nomadic people through improved habitat use and the development among others of appropriate ecotourism."

Due to the vastness of protected area, the national park contains a great number of habitats including mountains, grassy plains and open deserts.

The reserve contains three species Red Listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Critically Endangered: the addax, considered the world's most  imperilled antelope; the dama gazelle; and the elusive Saharan cheetah, a subspecies of the cheetah family with only 250 animals left in the wild.

A number of stakeholders have been involved in the establishment of Tin Toumma National Nature and Cultural Reserve, including local pastoralists. Some sheep and cattle farmers see the new establishment as a way to preserve their way of life as well as the natural resources on which they depend on.

According to the SCF, threats to the region's wildlife are poaching and future development of the oil sector.

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