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Location Benin, Atlantique,Ouémé
Central coordinates 2o 23.00' East  6o 45.00' North
IBA criteria A3, A4i
Area 90,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description Lake Nokoué is an extensive lagoon of c.16,000 ha extent, 20 km wide by 11 km long (north to south), immediately north of Cotonou. Its northern shore is formed by the deltas of the So and Ouémé rivers. It is connected to the sea not only via a channel through Cotonou, but also by another to the Lagune de Porto-Novo to the east and thence to the coast in Nigeria. On the western edge is the remarkable aquatic town of Ganvié, built on stilts made of bamboo or tree-trunks sunk into the water. The southern edge of the lake has the highest salinity, and is fringed with Typha australis as well as the ubiquitous grass Paspalum vaginatum. The proposed IBA includes not only the lake itself but also the seasonally inundated forest (Berlinia grandiflora and Dalium guineense), swamp-forest (Mitragyna inermis and Raphia hookeri), marshes and flood-plains of rivers north of it, up the Ouémé river as far as the village of Sagon, 10 km south-east of Zangnanado.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Large populations of waterbirds use the lake and surrounding areas. These include, in addition to those listed below, Egretta ardesiaca, E. garzetta, Tringa glareola, T. stagnatilis, T. nebularia, T. erythropus and Chlidonias hybridus. There is also a record of Gallinago media. It is expected that more species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome will be found to occur. In addition, five species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04) have been recorded; see Table 2.

Non-bird biodiversity: Small numbers of Tragelaphus spekii (LR/nt) are thought to persist but hunting pressure is intense. There are also records of Cercopithecus erythrogaster (VU) and Trichechus senegalensis (VU).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus winter  1996  1,020 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-crested Tiger-heron Tigriornis leucolopha resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Tern Chlidonias niger winter  1997  2,451 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Rosy Bee-eater Merops malimbicus breeding  1998  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Tockus fasciatus resident  1998  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Chestnut-winged Starling Onychognathus fulgidus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-vented Malimbe Malimbus scutatus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Basse Vallée de l'Ouémé, Lagune de Porto-Novo, Lac Nokoué Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 91,600 protected area contains site 90,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   5%
Unknown   10%
Wetlands (inland)   14%
Shrubland   21%
Forest   47%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
forestry -
nature conservation and research -

References Brunel (1958), Hagemeijer et al. (2000a,b), Wetlands International (1997, 1998).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Nokoué. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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