Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.


Poachers go in and out of reserves all day long

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  • Quick Facts:


    11,137 hectares (43,484 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    1. Lake Nokoue
    2. Pendjari National Park
    3. Ganvie
  • Animals Inhabiting Land

    North African cheetah, West African lion, elephant, and hippopotamus

  • Primary Ecosystems


  • Population


    Tags: Benin, West/Central Africa, Regional Parc W, Elephant, Cheetah, Hippopotamus

  • Benin
  • Benin
  • Benin
  • Benin
  • Land for Livestock Stefan de Greling
  • Land for Livestock Stefan de Greling
  • Land for Livestock Stefan de Greling
  • West African Giraffe
  • West African Giraffe

From a rising African kingdom to one of Africa’s biggest cotton exporters.

Once a prominent West African kingdom named Dahomey between the 17th to 19th centuries, today the Republic of Benin is one of the poorest countries in the world. This narrow strip of land is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation that is no bigger than the American state of Pennsylvania. While this is one of the smaller countries in Africa, Benin has it all: low-lying, coastal plains; lagoons; low mountains; valleys; and mangrove fields.

The majority of Beninese people participate in cotton production, regional trade, and subsistence agriculture, where farmers focus on growing just enough food to feed their family. Benin is one Africa’s biggest cotton exporters. It depends a great deal on its neighbor Nigeria for trade. 


Abusing the land also hurts Benin’s future.

In Benin, conservation falls under the responsibility of the government. There are many protected areas, including two parks: Pendjari National Park and the National W Park of Benin. An international agreement between Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger has protected these parks and its fauna and flora since 2002.

There are many other forests the government is working to protect, but due to a lack of appropriate resources and proper management plans, a large number has been burnt by locals for farming. Often, dozens of farmers and poachers make their way on motorbikes in and out of the reserves. Some carry guns or chainsaws. The poaching of valuable and rare trees as well as wildlife is widespread.

As Benin begins to develop other industries such as tourism, it must protect the very reason tourists are coming: breathtaking natural beauty and exotic wildlife and flora. The overuse of the land and flagrant poaching only further threaten Benin’s rare plants, wildlife, and its future.

Priority Landscapes

Will you show Benin your support?

With your help, African Wildlife Foundation can continue working on vital efforts like ranger training, conservation programs, and more. Donate for a cause that will help the people of Benin, their land, and wildlife conservation.

  • ParcW Camera AWF
    Wildlife Waterholes in Parc W
    Preserving wildlife amidst a drought

    Short rainy season proves disastrous for local fauna. 

    In Regional Parc W, 80% of the more than 30 water points are completely dry by March or April. The regular dry...

    Read more
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  • Land for Livestock Christina Van Winkle
    Land for Livestock
    Balancing the land needs of farmers, herders, and wildlife

    Livestock is a vital livelihood for people in West Africa. So is farming.

    As competition over land and natural resources grows, pressure on protected areas and...

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    All Projects

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