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Niokolo-koba National Park

Dakar, Senegal

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.

Established as a reserve in 1925,Niokolo-Koba was declared a Senegalese national park on 1 January 1954. Expanded in 1969, it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1981 as a UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve. In 2007 it was added to the UNESCO List of Endangered World Heritage sites.

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.

Most of the park is woodland savannah and semi-arid Soudanese forest, with large areas of wooded wetlands and seasonal wetlands. The park contains over 1500 species of plants and 78% of the gallery forest in Senegal.

Many trees and shrubs are covered by lush vegetation along the river stalks, and these vegetation changes according to the terrain and soil. In the valleys and plains, there are vast areas where Vetiveria and herbaceous savannah grow. Overgrown grasslands typically consist of the Paspalum arbiculare and the Echinochloa. Sudanian species grow in the dry forest. There are also areas where bamboo lives.

The national park is known for its wildlife. The government of Senegal estimates the park contains 20 species of amphibians, 60 species of fish, 38 species of reptiles (of which four are tortoises). There are some 80 mammal species.

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