Comoé National Park (8°32' - 9°32'N, 3°01' - 4°24'W) is a World Heritage Site. 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 savannas and patches of thick rainforest.
Threats to the Site
The present unrest in Côte d'Ivoire is having an adverse effect on the site, as is poaching of wildlife and fires caused by poachers, over-grazing by large cattle herds and the absence of effective management.
Located in the far northeast of the country south of the border with Burkino Faso between the towns of Bouna and Kong, 350-450 kilometers (km) north of Abidjan: 8°32' - 9°32'N, 3°01' - 4°24'W.
Date and History of Establishment
- 1926: Rudimentary protection established;
- 1953: Originally protected as the Réserve de Faune de Bouna-Komoé by Decree No.1605;
- 1968: Comoé National Park established by decree No. 68-81;
- 1977: 850 hectares (ha) were excised under Decree No.77-116 for agricultural purposes.
- 1983: Internationally recognized as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program.
From 119 meters (m ) to 658m (Mont Yévelé).
Government, in the prefectures of Bouna and Ferkessedougou. Managed by La Cellule d'Aménagement du Parc National de la Comoé (CANPC).
The Park comprises an interfluvial peneplain of schist and granite between the Comoé and Volta rivers, with a mean altitude of 250 m to 300 m and a series of ridges and granite inselbergs rising to 600 m. The River Comoé with its tributaries which forms the principal drainage runs north-south through the park for 120 kilometers (km). Watercourses also drain to the Volta river in the east. Permanent and semi-permanent water occurs in many places. The soils are infertile and unsuitable for cultivation in many areas.
There is a transitional Sudan-type humid tropical climate with a mean annual rainfall of 1200 millimeters (mm) falling mainly between June and October and a single dry winter season of six months in the south and eight months in the north which is hottest and driest in the spring. The mean annual temperature is 26°C.
The National Park provides an outstanding example of an area of transitional habitat from forest to savanna and has a remarkable variety of habitats and plant associations more often found further south which includes all types of savanna, forests and riparian grasslands. Open forest and savanna woodland characteristic of the Sudano-Guinean zone occupies about 90% of the area, and gallery forest and dense dry forest, about 10%. The primary forest is composed of many species of leguminous trees including Burkea africana, Detarium microcarpum, Afzelia africana, Daniellia oliveri, and Isoberlinia doka. The savanna grasslands consist mainly of Panicum, Ctenium, Andropogon, Elionurus and Cymbopogon species varied by thickets of Bauhinia, Combretum and Gardenia species. The gallery forests are dominated by Cynometra vogelii; the patches of dense dry forest by Isoberlinia doka, Anogeissus leiocarpus, Cola cordifolia, Antiaris africana, which is nationally threatened, Chlorophora excelsa (VU), and the edible akee Blighia unijugata. The flood plains are dominated by Hyparrhenia rufa. Other forest species recorded include Parkia biglobosa, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Combretum spp., Terminalia spp. including T. avicennioides, shea nut Butyrospermum parkii, Uapaca somon, Lophira lanceolata, Protea elliotii, Burkea Africana, the nationally threatened Borassus aethiopum (VU), Mitragyna inermis, Entada abyssinica with a grassy ground cover of Andropogon spp. Areas of specialised vegetation occur on the rocky inselbergs and in aquatic habitats. A species list for the park can be found with the biosphere reserve nomination submitted to UNESCO.
There is a large number of mammals in the National Park. There are 11 species of monkey including anubis baboon Papio anubis, diana monkey Cercopithecus Diana (EN), green monkey Cercopithecus aethiops, mona monkey C. mona, lesser white-nosed monkey C. petaurista, white collared mangabey Cercocebus torquatus lunulatus, black and white colobus Colobus polykomos and chimpanzee Pan troglodytes (EN). There are giant pangolin Manis gigantea, aardvark Orycteropus aferand 17 species of carnivore including lion Panthera leo (VU) and leopard P. pardus; also elephant Loxodonta africana (EN), rock hyrax Procavia capensis and 21 species of artiodactyl including bushpig Potamochoerus porcus, warthog Phacochoerus aethiopicus, hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, yellow-backed duiker Cephalophus sylvicultor and bongo Tragelaphus euryceros (both at their northern limit of distribution), bushbuck Tragelaphus scriptus, sitatunga T. spekei, red-flanked duiker Cephalophus rufilatus, waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus, kob K. kob, roan antelope Hippotragus equinus, oribi Ourebia ourebi and savanna buffalo Syncerus caffer aequinoctialis.
The birds include ten species of herons including grey heron Ardea cinerea, goliath heron A. goliath and yellow-billed egret Egretta intermedia, hammerkop Scopus umbretta, four of the six West African species of stork, ducks, five of the six West African species of vulture, hawks, plovers and francolins and black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus. Reptiles include all three species of African crocodile, Nile Crocodylus niloticus (90%), slender-snouted Crocodylus cataphractus (9%), and dwarf Osteolaemus tetraspis (VU, 1%). A species list for the park can be found with the biosphere reserve nomination submitted to UNESCO.
One forested area near the village of Gorowi is considered to be sacred. There are other sacred sites in neighboring villages, but these have neither been well located nor registered.
Local Human Population
Ethnic groups around the park include the Lobi, located in Bouna and Téhini; the Koulabgo in Bouna and Nassian; the Dioula in Kong; and the Djimini in Dabakala. These groups are mostly reliant upon agricultural and hunting activities. Population density remains low, but the north side of the park around Bouna and Téhini is under increasing population pressure.
Visitors and Visitor Facilities
The park is only open during the dry season between November and April when the 500 km of tracks are accessible. Two tourist zones have been established within the park for short and long-term visits. There are hotels at Kakpin, Ganse and a safari lodge at Kafola which are popular but expensive. The peak periods for visitors from the south are Christmas and Easter.
Scientific Research and Facilities
A complete inventory of the natural resources of the park was undertaken in 1974 with further studies financed by bilateral aid in 1977 and 1980. Research under the MAB program including work on ungulates was started in 1983. Work on climate, vegetation, soils, hydrology, plant and animal populations and pollution has been completed. A scientific research station has been planned since 1985. Limited accommodation is available for scientists.
The Park comprises one of the largest protected areas in West Africa. The presence of the Comoé River means that shrub savannas and patches of thick rain forest occur which are normally only found further south.
A management plan has been produced with help from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and European Union (EU). Five check points and 17 patrol posts at 20-30 km intervals are located around the park boundary. There is a strict reserve zone where tourism is prohibited. The development of a buffer zone encompassing a contiguous game reserve is being studied. There are also two tourist zones set aside for short and long-term visits. A rehabilitation project for the forest sector was funded by the World Bank in order to help with the management of [protected area]]s.
Problems have always included uncontrolled burning, grazing and overgrazing of cattle and poaching, particularly of elephant, roan antelope and waterbuck, despite vigorous anti-poaching campaigns; between 1992 and 1995, a guard and two poachers died during anti-poaching confrontations. Agricultural activities occur but the area has been less modified by this due mainly to the presence of the blackfly Simulium sp. which causes river blindness and has tended to discourage settlement and encroachment. However, the present unrest in Côte d'Ivoire and the consequent absence of effective management has greatly intensified the damage from all three causes. Poaching from Burkino Faso has also increased. The Park has therefore been declared in danger.
Fifty-three employees including one director, six assistant wardens and 46 guards.
4,600,000 CFA plus 62,000,000 CFA for vehicle maintenance. Large sums from the World Bank and other agencies were set aside for the period 1996-2003 before the present unrest, to improve the management of the Biosphere Reserve.
IUCN Management Category
- II (National Park)
- Biosphere Reserve
- Natural World Heritage Site inscribed in 1983. Natural Criteria ii, iv.
- Listed as World Heritage in Danger in 2003 because of fires, poaching, overgrazing and breakdown of management owing to civil conflict.
- Feiler (1981). Etudes sur les modifications saisonnieres des preferences d'habitat et des structures sociales del'Antiope Cobe dans le parc de la Comoé. Memoire, University of Wurzburg 1981.
- FGU-Kronberg (1979). Etat Actuel des Parcs Nationaux de la Comoé et de Taï Ainsi que de la Réserve d'Azagny et Propositions Visant à leur Conservation et à leur Développment aux Fins de Promotion du Tourisme. Tome 2: Parc National de la Comoé, Parties 1 et 2, Abidjan, GTZ.
- Geerling, C. & Bokdam, J. (1973). Fauna of Comoé National Park, Ivory Coast. Biological Conservation 5(4): 251-257.
- Lauginie, F. (1975). Composantes du Milieu Naturel et Environnement Socio-economique du Parc National de la Comoé, Propositions de Schema d'Aménagement. Bureau pour le Développement de la Production Agricole, Abidjan. 97 pp.
- Lauginie F. & Sournia, G. (1977). Essai de zoogéographie d'un milieu naturel protégé, le parc national de la Comoé. Ann. Univ. Abidjan serie G. (Geographie) T 7: 146-188.
- Roth, H. et al. (1979). Etat Actuel des Parcs Nationaux de la Comoé et de Taï Ainsi que de la Réserve d'Azagny et Propositions Visant à leur Conservation. Tome 4. FGU-Kronberg GMBH, Abidjan.
- Roth, H., Merz, G. & Steinhauer, B. (1984). Distribution and status of large mammals in Ivory Coast. 1. Introduction. Mammalia 48(2): 207-226.
Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.