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The Guinean Forest Hotspot  

 

Protection status – the road ahead

 

During a Conservation Priority Setting Workshop (CPW) held in Ghana (Bakarr et al. 2001a), experts identified 41 consensus priority areas, many of which are not included in already existing protected areas, some fall within a variety of classifications of management including faunal and forest reserves (or proposed protected areas). Still others fall entirely outside any protection or management regime. Consensus recommendations of the CPW generally underscored the need to strengthen and expand national protected areas and the systems that support them across the region. These recommendations include a priority emphasis on implementing the plans to establish the protected area system in Liberia, as well as the encouragement of initiatives such as those underway by Ghana to establish Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas. Hoever, very often recommendations aim at safeguarding and/or improving the status quo by upgrading managed areas to national parks, nature reserves or wildlife sanctuaries and therby increasing levels of protection of resident biodiversity. Only little is known about the degree to which levels of biodiversity and endemism are represented within already established protected areas (for a list see Tab. 2).

 

Tab.2: Existing protected areas within the Guinean Forest Hotspot – source: Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund © (2000).

 

Country

Guinea
Guinea
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Liberia
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Côte d'Ivoire
Ghana
Ghana
Ghana
Ghana
Ghana
Ghana
Ghana
Nigeria
Cameroon
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea

TOTAL

 

Protected Area

Massif du Ziama Strict Nature Reserve
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
Tiwai Island Game Reserve
Outamba-Kilimi National Park
Gola Forest Nature Reserves
Sapo National Park
Azagny National Park
Banco National Park
Iles Ehotile National Park
Marahoue National Park
Mount Peko National Park
Mount Sangbe National Park
Tai National Park
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
Bia National Park
Digya National Park
Kakum National Park
Nini-Suhien National Park
Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve
Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary
Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary
Cross River National Park
Korup National Park
Pico Basile National Park
Southern Highlands National Park

TOTAL

 

Area (km2)

1,123
130
12
808
176
1,307
190
340
105
1,010
340
950
3,500
50
78
3,478
207
160
386
53
13
4,000
1,259
350
600

20,625

 

 

During the CPW, the herpetologists A. Schiøtz and M.-O. Rödel defined 22 priority areas for the conservation of amphibian diversity. They considered the poorly-known forests of western Côte d'Ivoire to be areas of exceptional priority for rapid assessment. As some of these forest patches may represent suitable corridor options between Tai National Park and adjacent forest reserves in Liberia a detailed inventory of their remaining fauna and flora was assumed to be necessary. A number of recent surveys took these recommendations into account and first results are now available (see below).

Online sources:  CEPF  ; Hot Spots 

The herpetological perspective – a frog’s eye view

Although herpetological investigations in West Africa were initiated over 100 years ago (e.g. Peters 1875, 1876, 1877, Werner 1898, Ahl 1924 a, b), our knowledge of the herpetofauna remains poor. Hughes (1988) provided an overview of the history of herpetological investigations in Ghana, whilst Doucet (1963) reviewed the snakes of Côte d’Ivoire. However, for most of the described West African amphibians and reptiles biological data are still more or less anecdotal or completely lacking. Despite this it was generally assumed that at least the species inventory was nearly complete, and West Africa was generally seen as an area of comparatively low diversity. This was reflected in Lamotte’s (1983) statement that there was no place in West Africa where more than 40 amphibian species lived in sympatry.

Recent investigations in Côte d'Ivoire have challenged this point of view, and have revealed the existence of anuran communities comprising more than 30 species even in savanna habitats (Rödel 1998, 2000a, b, Rödel & Spieler 2000). Known forest communities are much richer and comprise between 40 and 60 species (Rödel 2000b, Rödel & Ernst unpubl.).

 

 

 

Fig. 3: Map featuring major West African Biomes (inlet pictures right, top to bottom: Sub Sudan Savanna, Savanna-Forest Ecotone, Lowland Rainforest; left top: Guinean Highlands).

 

Seven new amphibian species have been described from West Africa alone, within the last eight years, and more new species still await description (Perret 1994; Lamotte & Ohler 1997; Rödel 1998; Rödel & Ernst 2000, in press; Rödel et al. in press a, b). The anuran diversity therefore exceeds even that of many Neotropical regions (Ernst & Rödel unpubl.), and similar species diversity has also been reported for snakes (Hallermann & Rödel 1995, Böhme 1999; Rödel et al. 1995, 1999, Rödel & Mahsberg 2000, Ernst & Rödel in press b, Ineich 2002). Preliminary analysis suggests that more than 200 species of reptiles, a quarter of which are endemic, are found in the region, including more than 100 species of snakes and all three species of African crocodiles. Among the distinctive endemics are the Los Archipelago worm lizard (Cynisca leonina), Benson's skink (Trachylepis bensonii), and the Liberia worm snake (Typhlops leucostictus).
As for amphibians, estimates indicate the occurrence of at least 225 amphibian species (over 80% endemics). Many additional species are likely to be discovered; for example, 11 new frog species have been discovered in the last decade alone. One distinctive endemic species is the Mount Nimba toad (
Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis, CR), which gives birth to fully developed toadlets after a gestation period of nine months. The huge and threatened Goliath frog (Conraua goliath, EN) also occurs in this hotspot; this species can grow as large as 30 centimeters long and weigh 3.3 kilograms.

 

Contact: 

Dr. Alexander Kupfer

 

Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart

Rosenstein 1

D-70191 Stuttgart

GERMANY

 

Department of Zoology

Herpetology