The Comoé National Park is the largest National Park in West Africa. With an area of 11,500 km², it has about 1/3 of the size of Baden Württemberg. Thus, it is only marginally smaller than its better known East-African counter-part, the Serengeti National Park (14,763 km²), which is the largest African National Park.
The Comoé National Park is located in the north-eastern corner of Ivory Coast. It is named after the river Comoé, which is running in north-south direction through the Park as well as through the country.
Along its north-south direction (120 km), the Park is characterised by climatic gradient with dry Sudanian savannah in the North and relatively humid Guinean savannah in the South. Annual fires prevent the spread of forests, so that the majority of the Park (90%) consists of different types of savannah, such as open grass savannah or shrub savannah. The Comoé river is bordered by gallery forests with a rainforest character.
In 1942, the area became first protected as „Réserve de Faune de Bouna“. In 1968 it was declared „Parc national de la Comoé“, i.e. Comoé National Park. In 1983, the Park was listed as UNESCO World heritage site and biosphere reserve because of its unique biodiversity.
The park is home to:
- over 140 mammal species (104 in Germany)
- over 500 bird species (300 in Germany)
- over 30 amphibians (21 in Germany)
- over 70 reptiles (14 in Germany)
- several 100.000 invertebrate species, including many species new to science
Eleven primate species are listed for the Park, including baboon and several colobus monkeys. Furthermore, the chimpanzee population of the Park’s forests may present one of last remaining populations for Ivory Coast. Of the large carnivores, leopards and spotted hyenas can be listed. Since 2008, no lions have been recorded any more. Prominent species of the Park are also the hippopotamus and the African elephant. The savannah harbours many Bovidae, such as the kob antelope, waterbucks, bushbucks, and buffaloes. The park presents the northern most distribution limit for the Bongo antelope and the yellow-backed duiker.
20% of the bird species of the Comoé National Park are African migrants. 5% are Palearctic migrants (e.g. Pied flycatcher, spotted flycatcher, and European nightjar), which migrate between Africa and Eurasia. In addition, one can find several species of hornbills and bee-eaters, five vulture species and four out of the six West-African stork species.
The Comoé river together with is its tributary streams Iringou, Bavé, and Kongo foster the occurrence of many permanent and semi-permanent ponds in the savannah, which are home to an extraordinary diversity of amphibians.