Nazinga Game Ranch
It was established in 1979 by Canadian brothers who grew up in the country, Robert and Clark Lungren. After years of observing the devastating impact of cyclical drought on domesticated livestock as well as the effects of poor resource management (deforestation, overgrazing, burning, soil fatigue, etc.) Clark believed that the key to saving the African people from famine and its wildlife from extinction was found in resource development. He set out to prove that when human prosperity can be generated through sustainable management of its natural resources, both people and environment win.
After several years of research and raising funds, Clark focused on a relatively unsettled region of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso). Nazinga offered a topologically-varied environment, but endemic poaching was rapidly decimating the wildlife. He and Rob set up a conservation project with their families: using local labor they constructed dams, developed some 600 km of roads, built test paddocks and an administrative base, negotiated local subsistence farmers to abandon fields within the ranch boundaries, and banned all livestock from its land. They hired local poachers as game keepers in order to give them an incentive to protect it, established a fishing management program, and invited biologists from several countries to help them carry out wildlife and ecological studies. They also reintroduced native wildlife species which had been eradicated from the region.
The results exceeded all expectations. The studies found that wildlife has a far higher tolerance to drought, thrived on varieties of grasses and leaves that cattle derived little nutrition from, and did not cause erosion by overgrazing. They also produced far more meat per kilogram of animal than livestock. Studies found that culling adult animals by a certain percentage per species actually increased their reproduction rates and replenished the population, while not culling only maintained the reproduction rate at a constant level. As a result, they developed a stringent program of culling wildlife by night and processing the meat under controlled circumstances. This employed a growing number of local people, hugely increased the local protein intake (from the poorest in the country to the highest), and provided a quality and highly marketable meat which was sold in supermarkets in the capital city. Poachers were no longer able to compete with the quantity and quality of legally marketed wild meat. And the Nazinga Game Ranch became a significant source of tax revenue to the national government.
Their success became part of the projects' downfall. The interest of international development funders wanting to get behind the project and the healthy cash flow were too much to resist. In 1989, a year before the project was to be officially turned over to national management, corrupt officials spread the rumour that the Lungrens were revolutionaries... a coup had recently taken place and the political climate was strained. The Lungrens were forcibly moved to the capital where they spent the next years completing the project studies in hopes that the ranch would nevertheless succeed.
Under national management, the Nazinga Game Ranch reverted to a national wildlife park catering to foreign tourists. Poaching and poor management are once more huge problems, and the project no longer stands as a revolutionary and successful innovation in tying grass-root ownership to effective environmental management.
The area under protection grew considerably and today is 94,000 hectares containing more than 20,000 animals, including 800 elephants which roam the park. Nazinga Ranch has 39 species of mammal, including thousands of antelope such as roan antelope, waterbuck, oribi, reedbuck and 8 Buffon's kob (introduced in 1988), more than 500 buffalo, 5,000 warthog, crocodile and many primates including red monkeys, baboons and hyenas. It also has 275 species of bird including hornbills, hawk and herons.
Today the park is no longer under the management of Clark Lungren, but is under the control of the Burkinabé government.
- Lungren, Bruce (2010)
- Manson, K., Knight, J. (2006), Burkina Faso, p.215, Bradt Travel Guides, The Globe Pequot Press Inc., Retrieved on June 17, 2008