Through an initiative of ASGN, micro-credit and tourism save giraffes in Niger
ASGN (the Association to Safeguard the Giraffes of Niger) used grants from the Wildlife Protection Foundation in the UK and from the Zoo de Doue in France to set up a successful micro-credit scheme.
ASGN is a Nigerian combination of local initiative created in 1994. It is dedicated to the protection of the giraffes in West Africa and its habitat. The ‘giraffa camelopardalis peralta’, distinguished by its light-coloured spots are the last giraffe in all of West Africa and they are in Niger. This giraffe appears on the Red List of Threatened Species. In order to to raise awareness of the giraffes’ plight while boosting funds, tourism is promoted by ASGN.
The ASGN awareness campaign includes building wells and organizing micro lending projects to encourage villagers to appreciate the giraffes. Part of the money collected from giraffe tourism is shared out in the form of micro loans to individuals or groups of men and women, educated and by trained facilitators ASGN, in the surrounding area to promote a healthy economy and ensure the incentive to keep giraffe numbers rising.
These micro-credits allow the development of various income generating activities such as the fattening of sheep, the development of small businesses and restoration (purchase of condiments, edible oil, selling cakes).They are also dedicated to the purchase of seed and fertilizer for the development of agriculture. Thanks to the giraffe, the women in the village have been able to buy flour mills. The ASGN offered grain mills that have enabled women to cultivate rather than grind millet. The money is loaned for six months, after which women repay the association that transfers the money to another group of women.
In 2008, 30 000 Euros were distributed to eighteen villages. Microcredit is partly financed by the sale, in French shops zoos, giraffes’ small bronze and wood carved by artists of Niamey. The scheme helps women to develop and run small enterprises which in turn mean that their men folk no longer need to leave their villages to find work, but can become tourist guides and also help with the conservation and protection of the giraffes which are a rare but not endangered species in Niger.