The Niokolo Koba National Park is a prime attraction in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea-Conakry. The Gambia River travels 200km across the park, its tributaries here being the Koulountou, with its vast floodplain that holds water all year round, and the Niokolo-Koba which dries up gradually in the dry season. River water is the park’s main source of life. During the rainy season, the whole park is inundated with water making it inaccessible.
Initially known for its wildlife, then for its rich vegetation, Niokolo Koba was established as a game reserve which later became a forest reserve. The true birth of Niokolo Koba took place in 1954, when it officially became a national park. This recognition spurred on political action that strengthened the responsible authorities’ resolve in conserving this exceptional space. With its classification as a UNESCO World heritage site in 1981, its value became recognized at the international level. The lions here, said to be the largest in Africa, are the park’s special attraction.
Niokolo Koba is characterized by its group of ecosystems typical of this region, over an area of 913 000ha. The park is 16 times larger than the city of Dakar! The main features of the Guinean Savannah ecosystem include large rivers, gallery-forests, herbaceous savanna floodplains, ponds, dry forests (dense or with clearings) rocky slopes and hills and barren Bowés. In addition, the park’s remarkable plant life diversity of flora explains the presence of its impressive wildlife. Here you will find giant elands (the largest antelope in Africa), chimpanzees, lions, leopards, a large population of elephants and many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. There are over 70 species of mammals, 329 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians and a large number of invertebrates.
The site is under threat sadly and was 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. Despite all this, human activity has helped to shape this savannah landscape. The fired have encouraged people to grow herbs and grasses and to restrict tree growth to the wettest areas. The aim ideally is to find a balance between man and nature.
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