The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Parc W - Niger

Map showing the location of 'W' National Park (Niger) in the Guinea woodlands of west Africa Area: 2,200 km2

Inscribed: 1996.

Criteria: (ix) ecological processes, (x) biodiversity

Values:This is part of a much larger trans-frontier protected area, adjoining a complex of reserves in neighbouring Benin and Burkina Faso. Together, this complex supports the largest remaining population of elephants in West Africa, and provides one of the most complete examples of a West African savanna woodland ecosystem. The Park lies in the transition zone between the Sudanese and Sudano-Guinean savannas and is predominantly semi-arid to semi-humid Sudanese wooded savanna.  Flooded plains along the Niger River lie under a major Palaeoarctic-Afrotropical flyway and between February and May over 20,000 aquatic birds congregate there.


Slideshow of Parc W world heritage site.

Impressions (based on a visit in January 2006): The large mammals of the African savanna - for which the continent is justifiably renowned - are much more diverse and abundant in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa than anywhere in West Africa. So visitors to Parc W are likely to be disappointed if they arrive here with visions of experiencing a ‘typical' African wildlife ‘safari'. A boat trip along the Niger river is a highlight, but the interest comes from the scenery, villages and human activities along the banks, rather than encounters with crocodiles, hippos or wildlife drinking at the waters edge. A few game viewing ‘hotspots' have been identified and developed with viewing platforms where visitors stand the best chance of seeing a modest number of animals coming to drink at waterholes during the hot dry season (February to April). Otherwise, visitors can drive for many kilometres through the dense bush with only the occasional fleeting glimpse of an animal running for cover. Recent improvements in management, supported by a major EU-financed trans-frontier conservation programme (ECOPAS), have resulted in significant increases in large mammal populations. Nevertheless wildlife densities are still a fraction of those found in equivalent reserves elsewhere, due to a long history of hunting and human occupation in preceding decades. Restoration is proceeding well, but the park will never achieve the level of global significance attached to many other African parks, and will remain a contentious member of the ‘elite club' as long as it remains on the world heritage list.

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Google Earth | UNEP-WCMC Site Description | Official UNESCO Site Details | Birdlife IBA

Borassas palms are common along the banks of the Niger River in W National Park world heritage site (Niger)Local people harvest a wide range of plant materials in the areas bordering the W National Park world heritage site (Niger)A giant baobab towering over the mighty Niger river in W National Park world heritage site (Niger)Large populations of roan antelope still survive in the W National Park world heritage site (Niger), as well as healthy populations of elephants, buffalo and other wildlife



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