Last Chance to Save Rare Coastal Forest in Côte d’Ivoire
Thanks to generous support from our donors, we have successfully reached our fundraising goal for this project.
Critically Endangered Slender-snouted Crocodile. Photo by Clément Aubert, Projet Mecistops/Rare Species Conservatory Foundation.
Rampant deforestation has decimated the coastal forests of Côte d’Ivoire, and the few that remain are highly threatened by wood harvesting for charcoal and industrial plantations for oil palm, rubber and cocoa. In addition, the southwestern coast is experiencing a resumption of tourism activities. If protection measures are not undertaken in time, there is a major risk that this coastal zone on which so many species depend will be disrupted by uncontrolled development.
Protecting this key tract of vanishing coastal forest and adjacent wetlands, river, ponds, mangroves and beaches presents an unparalleled opportunity for conservation in Côte d’Ivoire. A recent Rainforest Trust-funded Rapid Protected Area Feasibility Study conducted by local partner Conservation des Espèces Marines revealed a treasure trove of biodiversity, including populations of the Critically Endangered Hawksbill Turtle, Slender-snouted Crocodile and Western Chimpanzee.
Rainforest Trust needs to raise $222,433 to help our partner protect 12,360 acres of this invaluable coastal ecosystem and establish the Dodo River Community Natural Reserve.
Endangered Green Turtle. Photo by CEM
The beach within the proposed protected area is a key nesting site for marine turtles in Côte d’Ivoire, and is the most important nesting site for Vulnerable Leatherback Turtles in West Africa. Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Green Turtles also take refuge at this coastal site, as they are elsewhere susceptible to human disturbance. Critically Endangered Slender-snouted Crocodiles rely on this forested habitat. At least seven primate species reside in these coastal forests, including the Critically Endangered Western Chimpanzee. Two species of pangolin, considered to be the most trafficked mammal in the world, are found here as well. Approximately 22 amphibian species, 15 reptile species, 83 bird species, 23 freshwater fish species and six ungulate species are known to be present in the proposed Dodo River Community Natural Reserve.
Forest wood cut for charcoal production. Photo by CEM
A large part of this ecosystem is comprised of coastal forests, mangroves and other wetlands which are threatened by wood harvesting for charcoal and industrial plantations for oil palm, rubber and cocoa. Poaching of sea turtles and eggs on beaches as well as wildlife in forests is an ongoing threat, and illegal fishing continues in the region. In addition, this coastal area is experiencing a resumption of tourism activities. Protection needs to be immediately implemented to prevent uncontrolled development from making the coast unsuitable habitat for sea turtles and other wildlife.
CEM community sensitization with Olive Ridley Turtles. Photo by CEM
The villages of Dogbalé, Mani, Pitiké and Kablaké Wappou are located near the proposed protected area, with a local population of about 3,000 people. Most community members work in plantations such as oil palm, rubber trees and cocoa, and small-scale fishing is conducted in lagoons and the sea. These communities have committed this land to create the reserve. Their cooperation and participation are essential to ensuring the effective management of the proposed protected area.
Village ecoguards. Photo by CEM
Rainforest Trust and our local partner are working to create the 12,360-acre Dodo River Community Natural Reserve to protect the area’s rich species diversity. The project includes a preliminary biodiversity study of the nearshore marine habitat as preparation for a future adjacent Marine Protected Area. Together, this would safeguard a total of 58,020 acres of this invaluable coastal ecosystem from the threats of industrial plantation development, uncontrolled fishing, hunting of other marine species and habitat disturbance.