Pendjari National Park
Pendjari is a major stronghold for the rare West African lion.
The Pendjari National Park: Parc National de la Pandjari) lies in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina-Faso. Named for the Penjari River , the national park is known for its wildlife and is home to some of the last populations of big game like elephants,west African lions, hippopotamuses,buffalo, and various antelopess in West Africa. The Park is also famous for its richness in birds .
The Pendjari National Park is an area of 2755 square kilometres in the far north-west of Benin. The park is part of the WAP complex (W-Arli-Pendjari) which is a vast protected area in Benin, Burkina-Faso and Niger. The hills and cliffs of the Atakora range make the north-west one the most scenic areas of Benin. They provide a wonderful backdrop to the Pendjari National Park, which, in its isolation, remains one of the most interesting in West Africa.
In March 2009 it was nominated as a tentative site for UNESCO's World Heritage Site program.
. There is a high annual rainfall of around 1100 mm; The park is open year-round, although from June–November rainfall can be heavy and certain parts of the park may be inaccessible.
Pendjari is an important refuge for the African elephant in West Africa
Pendjari National Park is home to most of the typical game species of the western African savannahs. One of the rarest large mammals, which is still found in Pendjari, is the Northwest African cheetah. However, the cat is very rare now even in the National Park. There were perhaps only 5–13 individuals left in the National Park, including neighboring W National Park 2007. The lion population of Pendjari and adjacent W National Park consists of about 100 animals and is possibly the largest in all of western or central Africa. As a special feature, almost all male lions of the Pendjari area carry no manes or at best very weak manes. The value of the lion population gained additional importance, since a study indicated a genetic uniqueness of West African Lions compared to lions from southern or eastern Africa Originally, the endangered Painted Hunting Dog Lycaon pictus , has been found in Pendjari National Park; and in the adjacent Arli National Park in Burkina Faso, is considered as possibly locally extirpated. It has been considered extirpated, but a few animals were confirmed during a study in April 2000. Other larger carnivore species include leopard,spotted hyena ,side-strped jackal , and African civet .
Pendjari also has a relatively large population of elephants. Their number was stable over the last decades and counts more than 800 individuals (years 2005-2010). Including neighboring W National Park and Arly National Park (WAP Complex), the whole population includes more than 3,800 elephants, making it the largest elephant concentration in all of western Africa. The second largest animal of the park is the hippopotamus .
There are also good populations of several other large herbivores like Sudanes buffaloes (Syncerus caffer brachyceros; ca. 2,700 animals in 2000), Western hartebeests (Alcelaphus buselaphus major; ca. 1,500 in 2000),roan antelope (ca. 2,000 in 20000), kob antelope (ca. 2,600 in 2000), and warthogs. Some other antelope species like korrigum (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum), busbuck, and reedbuck are relatively rare. Smaller bovids are red –flanked duiker, oribi, and common duiker. Primates are represented by olive baboon, patas monkey, and tantalus monkey .
Pendjari river within the National Park
The Park is renowned for its abundance of birds with some 300 different species in total. Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) and Lesse Kestrel (Falco naumanni) are occasionally recorded and there are a few isolated records for Lappet-faced Vuture (Torgos tracheliotus). Fox Kesstrel (Falco alopex) is not uncommon, while the African Swallow-trade Kite (Chelictinia riocourii) is a not uncommon dry season visitor. The Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) has also been recorded here. BirdLife notes that "the Pendjari is notable for large conspicuous species such as African Openbill Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus), Abdim´s Stork (Ciconia abdimii), Saddle-biled Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), and seasonally, flocks of up to 60 European White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). The African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and Pel´s Fishing-owl (Scotopelia peli) can also be found."
The National park and the bird habitat is protected by the government in Benin.