Fifteen years of Senegalese-Czech cooperation on the Western Derby eland conservation acknowledged by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding
Friendly relationships and mutual cooperation within the domain of nature conservation between the Czech Republic and Senegal were officially acknowledged by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of Environment of both countries. The main aim of the Czech-Senegalese cooperation is the conservation of the largest antelope, the Critically Endangered Western Derby eland. The last population of this antelope lives uniquely in the Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, representing an important part of its cultural heritage. The team from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS) and NGO Derbianus Conservation has already been involved in the research and management of semi-captive populations of this antelope for 15 years. That’s why CULS and Derbianus were delegated to implement the cooperation within the Memorandum on the Czech side.
“The Memorandum which we signed is not a start of a completely new and unknown project with unknown partners, but confirmation of the work already performed in the field, in the nature reserves, and at universities” highlighted the Czech vice-minister Vladimír Dolejský.
It is necessary to highlight the capacities of the Czech team, which despite the lack of financing from large donors has succeeded in maintaining the western Derby eland conservation programme, and has provided its expertise to the Senegalese partners free of charge.
“We hope that the signature of Memorandum will continue to bring us exclusive access to information connected with the research and conservation of the Derby eland,” said Karolína Brandlová, chair of NGO Derbianus and member of the team working on Derby eland conservation in Senegal since 2000.
The Memorandum has been signed thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the good will of both governments. Still the main workload will fall on those who have successfully worked in Senegal for the last 15 years.
“The Directorate of National Parks of Senegal, represented by Colonel Souleye Ndiaye, Senegalese authority for biodiversity conservation, has already taken a lot of successful steps in Derby eland conservation together with us. In 2013, we prepared the international strategy for Western Derby eland conservation, supported by IUCN,” added Pavla Hejcmanová, professor at the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague.
The strategy represents a strong basis for the conservation and research of the Derby eland. We have already started monitoring the wild population in NKNP using phototraps and for the next year we plan a very important study of elands using GPS collars, to gain information about their activity, space use and preferred habitat within the park.
“We believe that the conservation programme will benefit from the signing of the Memorandum, being more competitive in the grant applications directed to international funding bodies,” noted Pavla Jůnková Vymyslická, member of the Derbianus team, one of the advantages of the MoU for the practical work.
Hopefully the signing of the Memorandum will help to promote joint activities and especially for elands.