The importance of this park derives from its wealth of flora and fauna. Its vast savannahs are home to a wide variety of species: black rhinoceroses, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, red-fronted gazelles and buffalo, while various types of waterfowl are to be found in the northern floodplains.
© José Tello
Outstanding Universal Value
With an area of 1,740,000 ha, Manovo-Gounda St Floris is the largest park in the Central African savannas. Straddling the two ecological zones, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park owes its importance to its rich flora and fauna. It is home to many endangered species including the black rhino, elephant, hippopotamus and red-fronted gazelle as well as large concentrations of herbivores.
This Park is an interesting example of a “crossroads” where the species from savanna communities of East and West Africa, as well as those of the forest communities of the South, cross paths. The Park is a valuable area for the study of environmental changes occurring throughout the Sahel and Sudan under pressure from drought and overgrazing.
Criterion (ix): The Manovo Gounda St Floris National Park contains extraordinary natural formations. The Park straddles the Sudano-Sahelian and Sudano-Guinean biogeographical zones. This results in a variety of habitats from grassy plains in the north to savannas with gallery forests in the south. The property encompasses the entire watershed of three major rivers (Manovo, Koumbala and Gounda) with grassy floodplains and wetlands. The plains are interspersed with small granitary inselbergs with, to the south, the rugged sandstone massif of the Bongos.
This vast Park, surrounded by hunting areas and with a functional corridor to the National Park of Bamingui-Bangoran, protects the largest savanna of Central Africa. It represents a unique example of this type of ecosystem, home to viable populations of different species typical of this part of Africa and others from East and West Africa.
Criterion (x): The Park’s wildlife reflects its transitional position between East and West Africa, the Sahel and the rainforests. It contains the richest fauna of the country including about 57 species of mammals that have been well protected in the past. In this respect, it resembles the rich savannas of East Africa.
Several important large mammal species in terms of conservation live in the Park, such as black rhino, elephant, hippopotamus, red-fronted gazelle (here at the southern limit of its range), lion, leopard, cheetah and wild dog. There are large concentrations of herbivores, including buffalo, Buffon’s kob, waterbuck, and red hartebeest. Some 320 species of birds have been recorded in the Park, of which at least 25 species of raptors. Flood plains to the north of the Park are largely adequate for water birds, and the shoebill has been observed in the Park.
With a total area of 1,740,000 ha, the Park is almost completely surrounded by the game reserves of Ouandija-Vakaga and Aouk-Aoukalé (480,000 ha and 330,000 ha respectively), which provide effective protection against threats to the property from surrounding areas. Other hunting areas and reserves are also connected with the property, resulting in a contiguous area of 80,000 km2 of protected areas. The property is large enough to ensure species viability.
Nevertheless, the integrity of the Park is a cause for concern because of the numerous threats, poaching in particular (notably of rhinoceros, elephant and giraffe) and grazing. The lack of protection and land management measures was also noted at the time of inscription of the property.
Protection and management requirements
The site has National Park status. It is governed by the 1984 Wildlife Protection Code on which the national legislation on the management of protected areas is based. At the time of inscription, the Park was managed by a private company (Manova SA) which benefited from a governmental contract to manage the site. The Park was then regarded as the best-managed protected area of the country.
Today, conservation is under the authority of the Ministry of Water and Forests, Hunting and Fishing, with a structure consisting of the Chief of Staff, the Director-General of Water, Forests, Hunting and Fishing, the Director of Wildlife and Protected Areas, the regional directors, site managers and national conservators. Two bases (Manova and Gordil) are situated alongside the Park, to the east and west, but only the former is truly functional. Anti-poaching actions are primarily organised from these bases, limited by the lack of personnel, means of transport and the prevailing insecurity in the Park.
The region is sparsely populated. However, nomad pastoralists from the Sudanese region of Nyala and from Chad, with 30 – 40,000 head of cattle, enter the Park every winter – the dry season grazing halt on their traditional seasonal migration routes. There is also dispersed and limited agricultural activity in the environs of the Park.
The pressures of poaching and grazing highlight the need for a functional management or development plan for the Park. This plan should take into account the zoning of the Park and its relationship with the Village Hunting Zones in the periphery, with participative management and a Development Plan for the entire north-east territory (grazing areas and redefinition of the seasonal migration corridors).
The creation of a transborder “Zakouma National Park (Chad) –Manovo Gounda St Floris National Park” protected area is also desirable.
The area occupies most of the eastern end of Bamingui-Bangoran Province in the north of the country, on the international border with Chad. The boundaries on three sides of the park are formed by the international border, the eastern and southern borders of the province, whereas the western boundary is mainly marked by the Manovo River. The park comprises three main zones: the flood plain of the Bahr Aouk and Bahr Kameur rivers in the north, the Massif des Bongo in the south, and a gently undulating transitional plain between. The lowland areas, which are seasonally flooded, have fine, deep, alluvial soils, although drainage in these areas may be quite poor. This gives way to a flat plain with coarse, generally ferruginous and well-drained soils, in which some areas, particularly the depressions, have developed a lateritic or ironstone shield, on which woody vegetation is noticeably sparse or absent. The massif, which is separated from the plain by an escarpment, is chiefly composed of sandstone and is highly dissected. Five major rivers run down from the massif through the park to the Bahr Aouk and Bahr Kameur. These are the Vakaga, Goro, Gounda, Koumbala and Manovo. However, the flow may be interrupted towards the end of the dry season, and may actually only reach the Bahr Aouk and Bahr Kameur during the wettest months.
The predominant vegetation type over much of the park is Sudanese-Guinean woodland savannah which can be divided into five types: Terminalia laxiflora wooded savannah; Isoberlinia doka and Monotes kerstingii woodland; Pseudocedrela kotschyi and Terminalia macroptera woodland; mixed lowland woodland or wooded savannah; and Anogeissus leiocarpus and Khaya senegalensis .
The lowland areas are subject to both flooding and fire, and this is reflected to some extent in the vegetation. Further south, the higher ground is covered by bamboo open savannah, and woodlands associated with the hilly areas of the river sources.
Several species of particular conservation concern occur within the park: black rhinoceros, elephant, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, shoebill and crocodile. Unfortunately, poaching still has a significant effect on rhinoceros and elephant numbers, and has in the past affected both leopard and crocodile. Red-fronted gazelle is also found within the park at its southern limit.
Within the St Floris region, the most abundant large mammal would appear to be kob, with nine other fairly abundant ungulates including the duiker, waterbuck, hartebeest, oribi, topi, reedbuck, buffalo and warthog. Other conspicuous or noteworthy large mammals include hippopotamus, roan antelope, lion, giraffe and giant eland. Less common animals include golden cat, red-flanked duiker and yellow-backed duiker. Some 320 species of bird have been identified, with at least 25 species of raptor including bataleur and African fish eagle. There are large seasonal populations of pelican and marabou stork, and the park may be fairly important for both waterbirds and shorebirds. Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
The Part national Manovo-Gounda-St Floris was declared on 17 May 1979 with a total area of 1,740,00Oha, including the previously designated St Floris National Park and the former Safarafric hunting/tourism concession. Part of the area was first designated as Oubangui-Chari National Park (13,SOOha) on 10 December 1933 and renamed Matoumara National Park in 1935. The area was subsequently redefined on 27 July 1940 as St Floris National Park with an area of 40,00Oha, enlarged to cover 100,700ha in 1960, and again to cover 277,600ha in 1974. The area previously designated St Floris National Park forms the northern region of the current park. Inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1988. Source: Advisory Body Evaluation