W National Park of Niger
The "W" National Park of Niger is recognized for its biodiversity of birds, fish and plants.
The park is located at a transition zone between savannah and woodlands, around a meander in the River Niger shaped like a "W".
Its 10,000 square km is largely uninhabited by humans. It is contiguous to parks in Burkina Faso and Benin.
Szucs Tamas - December 2012
West Africa is not the right place to see animals. In most of the West African parks you can see practically nothing but the landscape. This was the case in Mole National Park of Ghana, where the most interesting animals we have seen were ants - forming a long strip on a lakeshore. Park W is much more difficult to reach than Mole, but as a reward, you can see some wildlife. Not comparable with the great East African parks, but at least there you can say, you were not sitting in a 4wd for days in vane. Because getting to the park is definitely not easy. First somehow you have to get to Niger -that can be a challenge itself. We tried to apply for a visa in Berlin, but were refused, so applied again in Accra where some "extra processing fee" helped us to get the visa of our dreams. Niamey is not a major transport hub, so finding a flight there is either difficult or very pricey. And that is also the case with onland transport, you either charter a 4wd, where prices reach the stars in the sky, or try to find a place in a bush taxi, what is exhaustingly slow, hot, and incomfortable. We chatered a 4wd for our round trip in West Africa, but the company refused to cross the Niger border with us. So our driver helped us in Malanville, the Benin side of the border to charter a bush taxi for the Niger part of our trip. As the car was in a surprisingly good shape, and the driver spoke some broken French, the price the owner asked was ridiculously high, and after an hour of serious bargaining we still had to pay much more than we wanted to. From Malaville to Dosso the road is horrible, we crossed a Martian landscape and the red dust covered all our clothes, our skin and the lenses of our camereas. From Dosso to Niaamey the road is at least sealed and the lanscape somewhat friendlier. We were crossing villages stuck in the middle ages, with their thatched roof mudbick houses, in front of what people were sitting looking at the cars, the only features of the 21st centruy they know passing by. After Niamey another 2 hours and we reached the park. The road is relatively good, and the park itself seems to be well kept up. As it is funded by the EU, some goals are followed that sound quite alien for other parks. All personnel is recruited from the local communities, so poaching is practically non existent. The guides - trained by EU programs - seem to be much more knowledgable than in other parks of the region. The prices are reasonable 5000 CFA for the entry and another 5000 for the compulsory guide. There is a hotel run by the villagers and a tent camp on the riverside. And the animals? Antilopes and hippoes are present and also some buffaloes and some elephants. Not in the innumerable quantities of the East african parks, but at least in visible herds. An evening and a morning game drive give you enough opportunity for pictures to fill your memory cards. But frankly saying it will not be the greatest wildlife experience of your life. But it is definitley the only theing the region can offer. If you want to make your Niger trip really unforgettable, visit the Kouré giraffes. That is an amazing experience. 60 km-s from Niamey - on the way to Dosso - there is the village of Kouré, where the last giraffes of West Africa live. At the road sign you have to buy the ticket, and hire a local guide, who knows exactly where the animals are. We reached the group (11 of the 300) after 15 km on the main road and then a 3-4 km off road driving. And what we saw was totally stunning. Among sorghum plantations, goat herds and hamlets a group of tame giraffes were just chewing leafs unbothered by the presence of other animals, local people or even us. We were allowed just to wander around them getting as close to the animals as 5 meters. As wildlife experience it is much more rewarding than the park. Currently it is on the T-List az "Zone giraffe", and I hope oncxe it will get it to the list. It really deserves a place.
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Full name: "W" National Park of Niger
1996 - InscribedReasons for inscription
1996 - Advisory Body overruledIUCN proposed rejection
The site has 17 connections. Show all
- Animal Migrations The Park has wetlands that lie under a major Palaeoarctic-Afrotropical flyway and between February and May over 20,000 aquatic birds congregate there. (UNEP-WCMC)
- Bovines West African savanna buffalo
- Critically endangered fauna species Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki)
- Crocodiles Nile crocodile
- Elephants "The park provides a home for some of West Africa's last wild African Elephants." (Wiki)
- Ratites common ostrich
- Siraneans West African manatee "others (species) have made a come-back (..... manatees)" AB.
- Strepsirrhini Senegal bushbaby
- Turtles and tortoises African spurred tortoise, African softshelled turtle
- Neolithic age "The site reflects the interaction between natural resources and humans since Neolithic times." (AB ev)
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process
- Controversial at inscription IUCN was against inclusion, also controversy about advocacy by the representative from Niger on a site in his own country. Of the 19 members, 4 finally voted against (Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States of America), not enough to prevent a 2/3 majority.
- Extensions on Tentative List Parc national du "W" sites archéologiques
- Potential Transboundary sites Burkina Faso - Le complexe Parcs nationaux Arly-W and Benin - Parc National W Benin