Benin Park Rangers Take on Counterterrorism Tasks

“In Benin, there is a lot of communication between us [park rangers] and the Beninese armed forces, but our roles are very distinct.”  

The French-language Beninese investigative media website published an article discussing an attack that left two Beninese police officers and two militants dead along Benin’s northern border with Burkina Faso.  A separate excerpted article in the Paris-based pan-African website discussed the incident in the context of Pendjari Park rangers, who work in the area.  Although no one has taken credit for the attack, it occurred in the area of operations of the al-Qaeda–affiliated Group for Support of Muslims and Islam (JNIM).  According to the article, the rangers acknowledge that they now coordinate with security forces to monitor jihadists’ infiltration into bases in the national park.  Current protocol for the park rangers when confronting jihadists is to contact the Beninese military and withdraw to allow the soldiers to intervene.  The article suggests that if the rangers are to be trained by a third party, the contractors should be former soldiers because they already have some relevant skills for both conservation and encountering terrorist groups.  In addition, although the park rangers acknowledge that several of them have lost their lives to jihadists in the Sahel in recent years, they are determined to continue working.  The rangers also note that they are not capable of developing a strategy to prevent terrorism, but it is necessary for the governments in the Sahel to formulate a more comprehensive strategy for how park rangers should deal with not only poachers, but now also jihadists.


“Quatre morts dans une Attaque terroriste (Four dead in a terrorist attack),” (French-language Beninese website), 26 June 2022.

The Commissariat of Dassari, commune of Matéri, department of Atacora was attacked by an armed group on the night of Saturday June 25 to Sunday June 26, 2022. The result was four dead, including two on the Beninese side and significant material damages.

Source: “African Parks: ‘Au Bénin, face aux jihadistes, nous ne définissons pas la stratégie militaire’ (African Parks: ‘In Benin, faced with the jihadists, we do not define the military strategy’),” (Paris-based pan-African website), 25 June 2022.

The rangers are armed according to the park where they work for the needs of the missions entrusted to them.  Their training, on the other hand, is relatively standard: it includes modules on respect for human rights, on escalation during an engagement, on how to deal with different risks and on how to behave when arriving at a crime scene.We use external trainers, who work under the direction of our head instructor.  The outside supporters are often former soldiers, some of whom also have real expertise in the field of conservation.  Our role is not to carry out national security missions, but to preserve the integrity of the areas entrusted to us.  Our rangers are trained to fight against poaching, but are effectively confronted with all kinds of threats, including jihadists.  In Benin, there is a lot of communication between us and the Beninese armed forces, but our roles are very distinct.  And when it is established that jihadists are involved, we withdraw immediately and let the military intervene.