Pendjari National Park

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Pendjari National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Parc national de la Pendjari.JPG
WAP-Komplex englisch.svg
IUCN Protected Areas of the WAP complex
Location Benin, West Africa
Nearest city Tanguieta
Coordinates 11°3′N 1°31′E / 11.050°N 1.517°E / 11.050; 1.517Coordinates: 11°3′N 1°31′E / 11.050°N 1.517°E / 11.050; 1.517
Area 2,755 km2 (1,064 sq mi)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part of Beninese part of W-Arly-Pendjari Complex
Criteria Natural: (ix), (x)
Reference 749bis-002
Inscription 1996 (20th Session)
Extensions 2017

The Pendjari National Park (French: Parc National de la Pendjari) lies in north western Benin, adjoining the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso. Named for the Pendjari River, the national park is known for its wildlife and is home to some of the last populations of big game like the African forest elephant, West African lion, hippopotamus, buffalo, and various antelopes in West Africa. The park is also famous for its richness in birds.

The Pendjari National Park is an area of 2,755 square kilometres (275,500 ha) 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 of 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, and in July 2017 it was officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a transnational extension of the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex.


The rocky cliffs of the area are sparsely wooded with Burkea africana, Detarium microcarpum, Lannea acida, Sterculia setigera and Combretum ghasalense. On the deep soils of some of the summits and the Atakora escarpment one finds a greater variety of plant species with Isoberlinia doka and Afzelia africana. The Pendjari River has an impressive gallery forest. The park includes both Sudan and Northern Guinea savannas, with areas of grassland dominated by Acacia sieberiana and Mitragyna inermis or Terminalia macroptera. There is a high annual rainfall of around 1,100 millimetres (43 inches); The park is open year-round, although from June–November rainfall can be heavy and certain parts of the park may be inaccessible.


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 (Acinonyx jubatus hecki). However, the cat is very rare now even in the national park.[1] There were perhaps only 5–13 individuals left in the national park, including neighboring W National Park in 2007.[2] 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.[3] The value of the lion population gained additional importance, since a study indicated a genetic uniqueness of West African lions (Panthera leo leo) compared to lions from southern or eastern Africa.[4] Originally, the endangered West African wild dog (Lycaon pictus manguensis) was found in Pendjari National Park;[5] and in the adjacent Arli National Park in Burkina Faso,[6] 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 African leopard, spotted hyena, side-striped jackal, and African civet.[1]

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).[7] 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.[8] The second largest animal of the park is the hippopotamus.

There are also large populations of several other large herbivores like Sudanese buffaloes (Syncerus caffer brachyceros; c. 2,700 animals in 2000), western hartebeests (Alcelaphus buselaphus major; c. 1,500 in 2000), roan antelope (c. 2,000 in 2000), kob antelope (c. 2,600 in 2000), and warthogs. Some other antelope species like korrigum (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum), bushbuck, and reedbuck are relatively rare. Smaller bovids are the red-flanked duiker, oribi, and common duiker. Primates are represented by olive baboon, patas monkey, and tantalus monkey.[1]

The number of waterbucks (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa) decreased from about 3000 in the 1970s to only 120 in 2004.[9]


The park is renowned for its abundance of birds,[10] with some 300 different species in total. Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus) and lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) are occasionally recorded and there are a few isolated records for lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotus). Fox kestrel (Falco alopex) is not uncommon, while the African swallow-tailed 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-billed stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), and seasonally, flocks of up to 60 European white storks (Ciconia ciconia). The African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) and Pel's fishing-owl (Scotopelia peli) can also be found."

Among the more notable species recorded are pied-winged swallow (Hirundo leucosoma), white-crowned robin-chat (Cossypha albicapillus), Botta's wheatear (Oenanthe bottae), familiar chat (Cercomela familiaris), white-fronted black-chat (Myrmecocichla albifrons), mocking cliff-chat (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris), common rock thrush (Monticola saxitilis), Senegal eremomela (Eremomela pusilla), blackcap babbler (Turdoides reinwardtii), red-winged pytilia (Pytilia phoenicoptera), black-rumped waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes), bush petronia (Petronia dentata) and Togo paradise-whydah (Vidua togoensis).

Grey tit-flycatcher (Myioparus plumbeus) has been recorded as well as several other species of the undergrowth. White-throated greenbul (Phyllastrephus albigularis) has been recorded at Tanguiéta and the white-throated francolin (Francolinus albogularis), a rare resident, has been spotted in farmland south of Natitingou. South of the park there is a large semi-protected zone known in French as La zone cygnetique de la Pendjari where a number of other species have been spotted. The National park and the bird habitat is protected by the government in Benin.

Recently introduced birds:


  • Assédé, E.P.S., Adomou, A.C. & B. Sinsin (2012) Magnoliophyta, Biosphere reserve of Pendjari, Atacora Province, Benin. Check List 8 (4): 642-661. [1]
  • Hogan, C.M. 2009. Painted Hunting Dog: Lycaon pictus,, ed. N. Stromberg
  • Legba, F. (2005) Contribution de la vegetation des collines de la zone cynegetique et du Parc National de la Pendjari du Benin comme milieu cadre et milieu ressource de la faune sauvage. Thèse Ing. Agr., Université d´Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou. 121 S.
  • Nago, S.G.A. (2005) Diversité des amphibiens dans les terroirs riverrains à la Zone Cynogénétique de la Pendjari. Mémoire de diplôme d´étude approfondies (DEA), Université d´Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou.
  • UNDP/ GEF (2005): Enhancing the effectiveness and catalyzing the sustainability of the W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) protected area system. UNEP Project document PIMS 1617. [2]
  • Woodroffe, R., Ginsberg, J.R. and D.W. Macdonald. 1997. The African wild dog: status survey and conservation action plan, IUCN/SSC Candid Specialist Group, Published by IUCN, ISBN 978-2-8317-0418-0 pages 166


  1. ^ a b c Sinsin B, Tehou AC, Daouda I, Saidou A. 2002. Abundance and species richness of larger mammals in Pendjari National Park in Benin. Mammalia 66(3):369-80.
  2. ^ Belbachir, F. 2008. [ Acinonyx jubatus ssp. hecki. In: IUCN 2011.[ IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. <>. Downloaded on 2 September 2011.
  3. ^ Marjolein Schoe, Etotépé A. Sogbohossou, Jacques Kaandorp, Hans de Iongh: PROGRESS REPORT – collaring operation Pendjari Lion Project, Benin. Funded by the Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund, 2010.
  4. ^ Bauer, H.; Bertola, L. D.; De Iongh, H. H.; Funston, P. J.; Leirs, H.; Prins, H. H. T.; Sogbohossou, E.; Tumenta, P. N.; Udo De Haes, H. A.; Uit De Weerd, D. R.; Van Haeringen, W. A.; Van Hooft, W. F.; Vrieling, K.; York, D. S. (2011). "Genetic diversity, evolutionary history and implications for conservation of the lion (Panthera leo) in West and Central Africa". Journal of Biogeography. 38 (7): 1356–1367. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02500.x. 
  5. ^ Rosie Woodroffe, Joshua Ross Ginsberg and David Whyte Macdonald. 1997
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  7. ^ Bouché P, Douglas-Hamilton I, Wittemyer G, Nianogo AJ, Doucet J-L, et al. (2011). Will Elephants Soon Disappear from West African Savannahs? PLoS ONE 6(6): e20619. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020619
  8. ^ Nicola Clericia, Antonio Bodini, Hugh Eva, Jean-Marie Grégoire, Dominique Dulieu and Carlo Paolini: Increased isolation of two Biosphere Reserves and surrounding protected areas (WAP ecological complex, West Africa). Journal for Nature Conservation Volume 15, Issue 1, 24 January 2007, Pages 26-40 online
  9. ^ Barthelemy Kassa, Roland Libois, Brice Sinsin. 2007. Diet and food preference of the waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa) in the Pendjari National Park, Benin. African Journal of Ecology, Volume 46, Issue 3 (p 303-310). online
  10. ^ Dasgupta, S. (2018-02-01). "$23.5 million funding pledge aims to protect critical West African national park". Retrieved 2018-02-01. 

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