Comoé National Park

One of the largest protected areas in West Africa, this park is characterized by its great plant diversity. Due to the presence of the Comoé river, it contains plants which are normally only found much farther south, such as shrub savannahs and patches of thick rainforest.

Comoé National Park, situated in the north-east of Côte d’Ivoire, with the surface of 1149450 ha, is one of the largest protected areas in West Africa. It is characterized by its great plant diversity. The Comoé River, which runs through the Park, explains the presence of group of plants that are usually found further south, such as the shrub savannas and patches of thick rainforest. The property thus constitutes an outstanding example of transitional habitat between the forest and the savanna. The variety of the habitats engenders a wide diversity of wildlife species.

Criterion (ix): The property, due to its geographical location and vast area dedicated to the conservation of natural resources, is an ecological unit of particular importance. Its geomorphology comprises wide plains with deep ridges carved by the Comoe River and its tributaries (Bavé, Iringou, Kongo), allowing humid plant growth towards the north and favouring the presence of wildlife in the forest zone. The property also contains green rocky inselbergs in a north-south line, surmounted by rocky ridges that form in the centre and the north, isolated massifs and small chains of 500m to 600m in altitude. Comoé National Park contains a remarkable variety of habitats, notably savannas, wooded savannas, gallery forests, fluvial forests and riparian grasslands providing an outstanding example of transitional habitats from forest to savanna. Currently, the property is one of the rare sanctuaries for a variety of West-African biological species.

Criterion (x): Due to the phytogeographical situation and the crossing of the River Comoé for over 230 kilometres, Comoé National Park teems with a vast variety of animal and plant species. This location in fact makes this property a zone where the areas of division of numerous west-African plant and animal species mingle. The property contains around 620 plant species, 135 species of mammals, (including 11 primates, 11 carnivores and 21 species of artiodactyla), 35 amphibian species and 500 bird species (a little less than 20% of which are inter-African migratory birds and roughly 5% palearctic migratory birds). Several of these bird species enjoy international protection, among which the Denham’s Bustard (Neotis denhami), the yellow casqued hornbill (Ceratogymna elata) and the brown-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes cylindricus). The property also contains 36 of the 38 species of the biome of the Sudo-Guinean savanna inventoried in the country as well as resident populations of species that have become rare in West Africa, such as the Jabiru Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis. The different waters of the Comoé River and its tributaries are the habitat for 60 species of fish. As concerns reptiles, three species of crocodiles are found in the Park – including the dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) – which are on the IUCN Red List. The property also contains three other threatened species which are the Chimpanzee, the African wild dog Lycaon pictus and the Elephant Loxodonta africana africana.

Comoé National Park is one of the rare zones in West Africa that has maintained its ecological integrity. The property is sufficiently vast to guarantee the ecological integrity of the species that it contains, on the condition, however, that poaching is reduced. The boundaries have been clearly established and defined to include the watersheds or ecosystems in their entirety. However, if the boundaries were extended to the Mounts Gorowi and Kongoli, the ecological value of the property would be greatly increased, as this area could provide the elephants with a particularly suitable habitat and also enable the protection of other important species. The World Heritage Committee has, therefore, recommended to the State Party to extend the south-west part of the Park to include the Mounts Gorowi and Kongoli.

The property was inscribed on the List of the World Heritage in Danger in 2003 because of the potential impact of civil unrest; decrease in the populations of large mammals due to increased and uncontrolled poaching; and the lack of efficient management mechanisms. The property is protected by various national laws. The main management challenges are combating poaching, human settlements, agricultural pressure and insufficient management and access control. In order to reduce these problems, an efficient surveillance system throughout the property, and the establishment of participatory management with local communities are required to diminish the pressures and impacts associated with the management of areas located on the periphery of the property. These measures shall be reflected in the overall management structure of the property. A sustainable funding strategy is also indispensible to guarantee the human and financial resources required for the long-term management of the property.

One of the largest protected areas in West Africa, this park is characterized by its great plant diversity.

It is one of the few remaining natural areas in the region that is large enough to ensure the ecological integrity of the species contained within the site.

The park comprises the land between the Comoé and Volta rivers, with mean altitude of 250-300 m and a series of ridges and granite inselbergs rising to 600 m. The River Comoé and its tributaries form the principal drainage and the Comoé runs through the park for 230 km. Watercourses also drain to the Volta in the east. Permanent and semi-permanent water occurs in many places. The soils are infertile and unsuitable for cultivation in some areas.

The park contains a remarkable variety of habitats and plant associations found, more often, further south, including savannah, patches of thick rainforest and riparian grasslands.

 It provides an outstanding example of an area of transitional habitat from forest to savannah. All types of savannah occur. The forest is composed of many leguminous trees. The gallery forests are dominated by Cynometra vogelii ; the patches of dense dry forest by Isoberlinia doka , Anogeissus leiocarpus , Cola cordifolia , Antiaris africana , nationally threatened Chlorophora excels , and the edible 'akee'; and the flood plains by Hyparrhenia rufa .

Areas of specialized vegetation occur on the rocky inselbergs and in aquatic habitats. Comoé forms the northerly limit for some species including yellow-backed duiker and bongo. There are a large number of mammal species with 11 species of monkey including anubis baboon, green monkey, diana monkey, mona monkey, lesser white-nosed monkey, white collared mangabey, black and white colobus and chimpanzee; 17 species of carnivore including lion and leopard; giant pangolin, aardvark and rock hyrax; and 21 species of artiodactyl including bushpig, warthog, hippopotamus, bushbuck, sitatunga, buffalo, red-flanked duiker, waterbuck, kob, roan antelope and oribi. Birds include 10 species of heron, ducks, raptors, plovers and francolins, hammerkop, black-winged stilt, four of the six West African stork species, and five of the six West African vulture species.

8 February 1968 by Decree No. 68-81. Originally protected as the 'reserve de faune de Bouna-Komoe' by Decree 1605 of 4 March 1953 though rudimentary protection existed since 1926. Accepted as a biosphere reserve and a World Heritage site in 1983.

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