Geography & Wildlife

Biodiversity

Ivorian wildlifeIvory Coast is famous for its biodiversity, with more than 230 mammals, 700 birds, 125 reptiles, 100 fish and over 35 different types of amphibians, not to mention around 4,700 plant species.

Most of this rich animal and plant life occurs in the interior rather than in coastal regions. However, many species are threatened by wide-scale deforestation which has left less than a third of Ivory Coast forested and only 2% of the primary/ancient forest remaining.

Steps were taken in the 1990s to ban logging and prevent the further destruction of forests. These efforts reduced the loss of forest to around 1.5% annually, though it is unclear how rates of deforestation have been affected by the recent years of instability.

Three National Parks

The three National Parks help to show the huge diversity of habitats and wildlife native to Ivory Coast.

An exciting rediscovery

The Nimba reed frog (Hyperolius nimbae), thought to be extinct, was recently rediscovered by a team of scientists searching for lost amphibians (since a third of amphibian species worldwide are now endangered).

To the south is the Mount Nimba Nature Reserve, with its wooded slopes and high altitude grasslands known as montane savannah. At elevations of between 1,200-1,600 metres, these mountain pastures contain distinctive plants and ferns. The reserve also has a well-studied community of tool-using chimpanzees. For reptile and amphibian-lovers, the area is home to the African giant toad and the Nimba toad, a rare viviparous species which gives birth to live young.

Comoe National Park in the north ranges from forest to savannah to grasslands. It is the largest conservation area in West Africa and with the River Comoé and its tributaries running through the Park, is home to a huge range of plants and animals.

The Tai National Park in the centre and to the west (encompassing land in bordering Guinea-Bassau and Liberia) contains some of the last primary forest which once stretched across West Africa. Its mature tropical rainforest is home to many rare species, including its most famous resident, the pygmy hippopotamus.