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Location Niger, Tillabéri
Central coordinates 2o 25.00' East  12o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 220,000 ha
Altitude 170 - 310m
Year of IBA assessment 2001





Site description The ‘W’ National Park lies 150 km south of Niamey, at the point where Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin meet. Together with the contiguous parks of the same name in Burkina Faso (part of IBA BF008) and Benin (BJ001), it forms the largest tract of protected savanna in West Africa. In the north-east the boundary of the park is formed by the Niger river. The river here makes several sharp turns, which together form the shape of the letter ‘W’ from which the park takes its name. In the south the boundary is formed by the Mékrou river (which also forms the international frontier with Benin), in the west by the international border with Burkina Faso and in the north by the Tapoa river. Large parts of the park are rocky, as a result of outcroppings of metamorphic Precambrian rocks (e.g. quartzites, schists and gneisses). In certain areas, these are overlain by Tertiary sediments, which give rise to widespread laterite-capped plateaus. Along the three rivers there are Quaternary alluvial flood-plains. The vegetation is predominantly wooded savanna and shrubland, transitional between the Sahelian and Sudanian savanna-types, together with a small amount of grassland. In addition to the flood-plains along the Niger river, there are gallery forests along its main tributaries and a number of ephemeral pools and wetlands in upland areas. Average annual rainfall in the park for the period 1961–1990 was c.700 mm.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. At least 355 species of bird have been recorded from the park, of which at least 48 are intra-African wet-season migrants, 63 intra-African dry season migrants and 63 dry-season migrants from Eurasia. Several species of global conservation concern have been recorded. In addition to Circus macrourus, of which more than 30 are likely to be present annually during the northern winter, Falco naumanni is a rare dry-season visitor. There is also a possible observation of Prinia fluviatilis from just north of the park boundary in suitable habitat, which also occurs within the park. Of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna species, Coracias cyanogaster and Galerida modesta are dry-season vagrants while Hypergerus atriceps is a rare dry-season visitor. All other 18 species are proven or likely breeders. The six species of the Sahel biome occur mostly during the dry season and all are uncommon to rare. However this site, together with Makalondi (NE002), are the only IBAs in the non-breeding range of some of the Sahelian species.

The various aquatic habitats are important for waterbirds. The largest single waterfowl count during January–February 1993–1998 was of 10,337 birds in 1997, along the Niger river only. Further counts may reveal totals of more than 20,000 waterbirds. Significant observations include a group of nine Ciconia nigra at a small wetland in January 1998 while, in March 1997, 1,412 Sarkidiornis melanotos, 7,979 Dendrocygna viduata and 325 Plectropterus gambensis were counted on the river. In addition, there are quite large rookeries of egrets, etc. in the interior of the park, which have never been properly censused.

Non-bird biodiversity: A total of 82 species of mammal have been identified, including Loxodonta africana (EN), Panthera leo (VU), Acinonyx jubatus (VU), Syncerus caffer (LR/cd) and 11 species of antelope; Trichechus senegalensis (VU) also occurs.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Bearded Barbet Pogonornis dubius resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Arabian Bustard Ardeotis arabs resident  1999  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Savile's Bustard Lophotis savilei resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Collared-dove Streptopelia roseogrisea resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Senegal Parrot Poicephalus senegalus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Violet Turaco Musophaga violacea resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-bellied Roller Coracias cyanogaster resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sun Lark Galerida modesta resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
River Prinia Prinia fluviatilis resident  1999  unknown  A3  Least Concern 
Oriole Warbler Hypergerus atriceps resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Senegal Eremomela Eremomela pusilla resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Purple Glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-bellied Starling Lamprotornis pulcher resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-crowned Robin-chat Cossypha albicapilla resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black Scrub-robin Cercotrichas podobe resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-fronted Black-chat Myrmecocichla albifrons resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sudan Golden Sparrow Passer luteus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bush Petronia Petronia dentata resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Heuglin's Masked-weaver Ploceus heuglini resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-throated Firefinch Lagonosticta larvata resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lavender Waxbill Estrilda caerulescens resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2001 medium not assessed low
unset
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - large dams likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species 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

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Very little or no conservation action taking place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Parc national du W Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 220,000 is identical to site 220,000  
W du Niger National Park 220,000 is identical to site 220,000  
W National Park of Niger World Heritage Site 220,000 is identical to site 220,000  
W Region (Niger) UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 728,000 protected area contains site 220,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   87%
Shrubland   12%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

References Brouwer (1993), Brouwer and Mullié (1993), Jameson and Crisler (1996), Koster and Grettenberger (1983), Newby et al. (1982), Shul et al. (1986).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: 'W' National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife