Western Derby eland (WDE) is subspecies of the West African savannah dwelling antelope listed as Critically Endangered C2a (ii), having extremely low wild population restricted only to the Niokolo Koba National Park (NKNP), Senegal and decreasing population trend (IUCN Red List 2017). There is the semi-captive population in two reserves - Fathala and Bandia, having currently 101 individuals divided into 5 herds, based only on 6 founding individuals (1M,5F) captured in 2000 in the NKNP. Their pedigree, demographic and genetic parameters are carefully monitored and managed. Derbianus Conservation and Directorate of National Parks of Senegal (DPN) developed the WDE Conservation Strategy to improve the current conservation status of the WDE (for details see Brandlová et al. 2013).

Back home operation 

One of key actions of the WDE Conservation Strategy and the aim of the current project is to conduct the pilot translocation of captive-born individuals from the reserves in the Niokolo Koba national park, presented as "Back home operation". This consists in creating/ building an acclimatisation enclosure with necessary infrastructure (roads, drill and waterhole, watchtowers, etc.) inside of the Niokolo Koba national park, training rangers in the small population management relevant to WDE, and bringing a group of selected WDE individuals (5-7 males) from the semi-captive population back to their natural environment. This operation has high significance for proving the adaptability of captive-born generation of WDEs to natural conditions and for assessment of the potential for reinforcement of the wild population. The Back Home operation will have the very high impact on motivation and commitment of national park rangers to their mission.

Main project phases

Project will carry out 1) the translocation of WDE individuals from the Fathala reserve to the Niokolo Koba NP; and 2) an environmental education and conservation awareness campaign. Project will have following phases indicated as R (Results):

R1.1 Construction of conservation breeding facility, including 2-chambered enclosure (100+50ha), water boreholes, and roads; R1.2 National park staff training to manage the facility; R1.3 Select and translocate 5-7 suitable WDE males from reserves to the NKNP; R1.4 Establish breeding facility management;

R2.1 Conduct the conservation promotion campaign targeted to incoming tourism in cooperation with Senegalese Ministry of Tourism and Aviation; R2.2 Develop and implement training programs for local community-based Association of Touristic Guides using the WDE breeding facility in the NKNP; R2.3 Conduct an environmental awareness campaign through local broadcast media and community meetings; R2.4 Develop and implement environmental education campaign (materials and programs) at national and regional level in Senegal to promote WDE conservation and NKNP protection.

The project is currently in the intensive preparatory phase (agreements, coordination, seeking funds) and in the initial phase of conservation awareness campaign. Promotion campaign strategy and educational programs and materials development are running.

Conservation activities awareness

Besides ensuring the building and running the infrastructure, the Back Home operation aims at increasing the awareness and acceptance of the WDE conservation activities among local communities through a through a thoughtful awareness campaign based on own rich experience in Senegal and in cooperation with Ministry of Tourism of Senegal. A series of training for local Association of Touristic Guides of the NKNP and for teachers of elementary and high schools will be conducted, a series of information and educational materials will be created, a series of broadcast sessions in local media (for local communities) and on web interface media (for international audience) will be carried out. The awareness will include benefits to the local population just like incoming tourism, job opportunities, and environmental education in local schools. WDEs in the acclimatisation enclosure will become ambassadors of their wild relatives, as well as they will promote nature value and conservation in the area.