GNF - Manatee Protection & Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems, Benin

Manatee Protection and Mangrove Conservation in West Africa

Manatee Protection by Community Management and by Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems in Benin



Lake Nokoué is situated in the densely populated coastal area of Benin – surrounded by the two large cities of Cotonou in the southwest and the capital Porto-Novo in the northeast. Both cities have over one million inhabitants. The lake itself and the mouth of the Ouémé River form a vast wetland area where rare and endangered species such as the African Manatee, a species of sea cows (genus: Sirenia) and the water kudu, a very rare antelope species in West Africa, can be found.


The mangrove forests at the transition between the lagoons and the open sea form a particularly valuable habitat worth protecting. The conservation of the mangroves is of great importance not only for the survival of rare animal and plant species but also for local coastal fishing, which feeds hundreds of thousands of families in West Africa. For this reason, the Basse Vallée de l'Ouémé, the Lagune de Porto-Novo and the Lac Nokoué have been designated as Ramsar Protected Areas of International Importance (No. 1.018) since 2000.


Despite their protected status, the human pressure to use these areas is constantly increasing, especially from the two nearby cities of Cotonou and Porto-Novo. To make matters worse, law and regulations for the protection of natural resources in Benin, as in other West African countries, often cannot be enforced. The competent authorities simply lack money and staff. Natural resources, in particular fish, timber and water, are also important sources of income for the local population, who often live in poverty. Unpurified sewage and urban waste, pesticides, fertilizers and organic matter have long led to a steady deterioration in water quality in Lake Nokoué and Ouémé River. Moreover, the manatees found there are increasingly hunted directly because of their meat. This happens regardless of their protected status, as fish stocks are constantly declining due to overexploitation and water quality degradation, forcing people to hunt the last remaining large mammals.

Project objectives

Sustainable, community based management and use of natural resources should contribute to improving the livelihoods of local people. This can only be achieved if local communities are more closely involved in conservation efforts and site management.


Project measures

The concrete project measures include the reforestation of 2 hectares of already degraded forest and mangrove areas together with the village population. In addition, 30 people, including local hunters, fishermen and authority representatives, will be trained in the sustainable management of natural resources and the village population will be informed about their rights of use.

 Water hyacinths spread on the tributaries and the lake.
 Residents supply themselves with water from Lake Nokoue.
 Solid waste has been a burden on the water quality of Lake Nokoue for some time.
 Wood is transported on the boat.
 Water for daily consumption is also transported over longer distances.
 Mangrove seedlings are cultivated in tree nurseries for the project areas.

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December 2018 – September 2019




Amis de l’Afrique Francophone - Benin (AMAF-Benin)


Environmental Action Germany (DUH) and Rapunzel Naturkost with funds of the Hand in Hand fund