Niokolo-Koba National Park
Inscription Year on the List of World Heritage in Danger: 2007
Located in a well-watered area along the banks of the Gambia river, the gallery forests and savannahs of Niokolo-Koba National Park have a very rich fauna, among them Derby elands (largest of the antelopes), chimpanzees, lions, leopards and a large population of elephants, as well as many birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Outstanding Universal Value
Located in the Sudano-Guinean zone, Niokolo-Koba National Park is characterized by its group of ecosystems typical of this region, over an area of 913 000ha. Watered by large waterways (the Gambia, Sereko, Niokolo, Koulountou), it comprises gallery forests, savannah grass floodplains, ponds, dry forests -- dense or with clearings -- rocky slopes and hills and barren Bowés. This remarkable plant diversity justifies the presence of a rich fauna characterized by: the Derby Eland (the largest of African antelopes), chimpanzees, lions, leopards, a large population of elephants as well as many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Criterion (x): Niokolo-Koba National Park contains all the unique ecosystems of the Sudanese bioclimatic zone such as major waterways (the Gambia, Sereko, Niokolo, Koulountou), gallery-forests, herbaceous savanna floodplains, ponds, dry forests -- dense or with clearings-- rocky slopes and hills and barren Bowés. The property has a remarkable diversity of wildlife, unique in the sub-region. It counts more than 70 species of mammals, 329 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians and a large number of invertebrates. Lions, reputedly the largest in Africa, are a special attraction, as well as the Derby Eland, the largest antelope in existence. Other important species are also present, such as the elephant, leopard, African wild dog and chimpanzee. The wealth of habitats should be noted, along with the diversity of flora, with over 1,500 important plant species.
Covering nearly one million hectares, the Niokolo-Koba National Park is sufficiently vast as to illustrate the major aspects of the Guinean savanna-type ecosystem, and to ensure the survival of species therein. However, reports indicate a considerable poaching of elephants. The proposed dams on the Gambia and the Niokolo-Koba are also a concern because they would have disastrous consequences for the ecological integrity of the property.
Protection and management requirements
The park is managed by a management administration under the direct supervision of the State through the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection and the National Parks Directorate. In 2002, a development and management plan was elaborated. This Plan should be updated through regular revisions to strengthen the conservation of the property, and provided with adequate resources to ensure its effective implementation.
The property, inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007, is subject to many pressures such as poaching, bush fires, the premature drying up of ponds and their invasion by plants. To this must be added population growth and poor soil in the surrounds, which has led to encroachment on agricultural land and livestock wandering in the park. The priorities for the protection and management of the property are thus to implement urgent measures to halt poaching, improve the park’s ecological monitoring programme, develop a plan for survival of endangered species, address premature drying up of the ponds and their invasion by plants or find alternative solutions, and minimize the illegal movement of livestock. It is also necessary to improve cross-border cooperation and measures to protect buffer zones and ecological corridors outside the park. For the long-term management, protection of the property should be a national policy, project and budgetary priority, with the assistance of development partners.
Niokolo-Koba National Park covers 913,000 ha of the Guinea savannah of Senegal, with significant areas of bush land and gallery forest along both banks of the upper Gambia River. The area is rich in wildlife, with over 70 species of mammal, 329 bird, 36 reptile, 20 amphibian and vast numbers of invertebrates. The lions are a special attraction, reputed to be Africa's largest; Derby's eland, an endangered species, is the world's largest antelope. Other endangered species include chimpanzees, leopards and elephants. With around 1 million hectares, Niokolo-Koba certainly has sufficient size to demonstrate the key aspects of the functioning Guinea savannah ecosystem, and to ensure the survival of the endangered species contained therein. The park is a relatively flat region, with small lines of hills reaching about 200 m, separated by wide floodplains which become inundated during the rains. The park is crossed by the River Gambia and its two tributaries, the Niokolo Koba and the Koulountou.
Vegetation varies from a southern Sudanian type to Guinean with savannah predominant, more luxuriant vegetation along the course of the rivers and a varying cover of trees and bushes. This vegetation changes its character according to topography and soils. In the valleys and plains there are vast areas of Vetiveria and herbaceous savannahs. Seasonally flooded grassland is typically composed of Paspalum arbiculare and Echinochloa . Dry forest is made up of Sudanian species. There are also areas of bamboo. In ravines and gallery forests species indicative of a south Guinean climate are present, with lianes very abundant. On the edges of rivers semi-aquatic species, occur and annuals, which disappear when the water level rises, are found in the periodically flooded sands. Ponds are bordered by either dry forests or herbaceous savannahs, depending on humidity and soil compaction. Occasionally the centre of a marsh is occupied by thick thorn bushes of Mimosa pigra . Carnivores include leopard, lion and hunting dog. There are also buffalo roan, giant eland, Guinea baboon, green and patas monkey, bay colobus, all three African crocodiles and dwarf crododile, four tortoise species, and hippopotamus which is present in all three large watercourses. The park is the last refuge in Senegal for giraffe and elephant. About 150 chimpanzees live in the gallery forest of the park and on Mont Assirik (the north-western limit of their distribution). Birds include Denham's bustard, ground hornbill, violet turaco, spur-winged goose, white-faced tree duck, martial eagle and bateleur.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Created as a Hunting Reserve in 1926, Forest Reserve in 1951 and a Fauna Reserve on 19 April 1953 and enlarged by Decrees of 1962, 1965, 1968 and 1969. Accepted as Biosphere Reserve and inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 1981.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation