Ulysse Sinagabé Korogone
We’re delighted to introduce a Friend of the Month from the Republic of Benin, which has West Africa’s largest remaining elephant population. Ulysse Sinagabé Korogone is the EPI’s focal point within Benin’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Did you see much nature when you were growing up?
I was born in Porto-Novo, Benin’s political capital, but I grew up in the North, in an area rich in flora and fauna. My late father Korogoné Yérima, was very passionate about nature and took us to spend our holidays in the village of Banikoara, on the edge of W National Park.
When did you decide to become a conservationist?
In my first year at the Faculty of Agronomy we took a field trip to the W National Park, where I was impressed by the enthusiasm and good work done by those trying to protect the park. I decided that day to become a conservationist.
How many elephants do you believe are surviving in the Benin Republic?
We estimate the population of elephants in Benin to be around 1,500.
Unfortunately, we know there have been many security problems in the countries neighbouring Pendjari and W National Parks. What impact has this had on conservation in Benin?
Security in neighbouring countries is a major concern. Our new national conservation policy emphasizes the need to strengthen security in and around protected areas. Our anti-poaching forces and supporting NGOs are committed. But there has been an upsurge in poaching and trafficking in certain high-risk areas.
What is the biggest threat to Benin’s elephants? Poaching, or loss of habitat?
Loss of habitat leads to numerous human-elephant conflicts, which result in destruction of property and loss of lives, and make people hostile to these animals. But poaching is also a serious threat.
Are you optimistic that future generations in Benin will be able to see elephants in the wild?
Our government is committed, and working together with partners, so I’m convinced that elephants have a good future in Benin. We will work tirelessly to achieve this.