W National Park, Benin
W national park is the major national park located in West Africa across a meander in Niger River which is shaped like the letter W. The park stretches in different areas of three countries including Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso and thus governed by all the three governments.
The section of W national park stretching in the Republic of Benin covers an area of approximately 8,000 square kilometers and it came under the management of African parks fully in June 2020. In this state, W national park is contiguous with Pendjari national park which is also under the management of African parks.
In the three countries – Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, W national park encompasses an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometers. This large area has been a malarial zone of wetlands which are formed by the delta of the Mekrou River with the Niger, broken by rocky hills until 1970s.
Wildlife of the W national park
W national park is a home to more than 454 species of plants including the two orchids that are found only in Niger. The plant species in the park range from West African woodland – savannah which is the largest population of ungulates in West Africa.
W national park is known for hosting large mammals including the warthogs, cheetah, West African lion, African bush elephants, hippos, aardvark, baboons, African buffalos, caracal, African leopard, serval and many others. Also, the park is a home to some of the remaining West Africa’s wild African elephants and the West African giraffes though are currently restricted to small parts of Niger’s side. A small population of Northwest African cheetahs of about 25 individuals is estimated to be across the W- Arli – Pendjari protected area complex.
Bird species in the park
W national park is known for its large bird population especially the migratory species. The park records more than 350 species of birds thus one of the best destinations for the birders. Among the birds in the park include the white faced whistling duck, common teal, African pygmy goose, Egyptian goose, helmeted Guineafowl, double spurred francolin, stone partridge, African collared dove, red eyed dove, speckled pigeon, red eyed dove, black billed wood dove, blue spotted wood dove, long tailed Nightjar, standard winged nightjar, common cuckoo, black crake and many others.
Safari activities in W national park
With over 350 species of birds, w national park is surely among the best destinations for birders. With a variety of wetlands that lie under the Palearctic – Afrotropical flyway, a number of aquatic birds encompass there between the months of February and May. Among the water birds to be sighted include the Guinea fowl, the great bustard Otis tarda, the Abyssinian ground hornbill, francolins and others.
W national park is a home to the typical northern Sudanese savannah animals and also the remaining population of the West African elephants, kob, West African savannah buffalo and the western giraffes. The park records more than 70 mammal species including a variety of carnivores like the spotted hyena common jackal, marsh mongoose, serval, African sand fox, Saharan cheetah, and the aardvark.
W national park encompasses the River of Mekrou which habitats several fish species including the catfish and the legendary Captain fish of water.
By the guidance of the skilled ranger, track through the park and spot a variety of animals. After the patrol, children are given special certificates for recognition.
Best time to visit the park
W national park can be visited any time throughout the year but the best time is in the months of January, February and July until December. In this season, you will spot numerous animals especially around the water bodies.