3 February 2012

West Africa: Largest Wildlife Sanctuary Faces Extinction

Ougadogou — Drought and lack of water is pushing thousands of wild animals out of West Africa's largest game reserve into human settlements in Burkina Faso.

Environmentalists on Thursday described the situation as "critical and causing panic among people" particularly in the region of Bogandé.

The animals are reportedly attacking inhabitants, destroying rice and banana plantations as well as consuming livestock.

Mr Urbain Bélemsobgo of the Burkina Wildlife ministry explained that the government had spent about $180,000 dollars over the last seven months to provide water resources for the animals, but in vain.

He explained that an adult elephant drinks about 200 litres of water per day; a quantity he said is far from being available for the thousands of wildlife species in the country and expressed fear that many would eventually die.

Landlocked Burkina Faso is said to host between 2,500 and 3,000 elephants, about 15,000 buffaloes and an unspecified number of hippopotamus, lions, tigers as well as 450 bird species.

Environmentalist Party officials recalled that six months ago, they notified the authorities about an imminent drought and the consequences it could have on the wildlife and human population in 146 out of the 350 districts of the country.

The party also underscored the potential risk and danger that could occur between the animal and human population such as attacks and destruction of plantations.

Pierre Kafando, the coordinator of the cross border biosphere reserve in Burkina Faso described the prevailing situation as "catastrophic" and revealed that several animals were dying.

The environmentalist called for urgent help to beef up an emergency plan sponsored by the World Bank.

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