The site is located in the eastern lowlands, immediately west of the town of Kouroussa. It includes the core area of the Haut Niger National Park, centred on Mafou Forest Reserve, which covers an area of 52,000 ha, together with the surrounding Controlled Hunting Zone, which occupies a further 156,800 ha. Excluded, however, is the larger, encircling buffer zone of a further 392,400 ha. As defined therefore, the site is bounded by the roads linking the towns of Kouroussa, Banfélé, Faranah, N’Déma, Cisséla and Kouroussa. The area is drained by the Niantan river, flowing east from the Fouta Djalon, and by the northward flowing Mafou river from the Guinea Highlands, which unite at the north-east corner of Mafou Forest Reserve to become the Niger. The area is a relatively flat granitic plateau with greater relief provided by some stream valleys.Mafou Forest Reserve is uninhabited, almost untouched savanna woodland with gallery forest along the larger rivers, other forest patches in depressions and bowé. The closed forests are dominated by Chlorophora excelsa, Erythrophleum guineense, Nauclea latifolia, N. pobeginii, Pterocarpus santalinoides, Syzygium guineense and Vitex doniana. The savanna habitat comprises woodland, wooded grassland and grass savanna on laterite. The woodland formations are characterized by the trees Afrormosia laxiflora, Combretum glutinosum, Danniellia oliveri, Annona senegalensis, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Lophira lanceolata and Uapaca togoensis. There are also areas of dense Isoberlinia (I. doka and I. dalzielli) woodland. The grasslands are dominated by Andropogon gayanus, Hyparrhenia spp. and Imperata cylindrica. Annual rainfall is between 1,500 and 1,700 mm.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The park contains a rich and diverse avifauna, reflecting the high quality habitat. Some 300 bird species have so far been recorded, including 11 species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome; see Table 3.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal Loxodonta africana (EN) occurs.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Mafou Forest Reserve was established in 1954 and was incorporated into Haut Niger National Park on its creation in 1997. This core area is entirely unpopulated, probably due to the prevalence of onchocerciasis in the area; population densities in the hunting zone are about 1.1 persons/km². Clearance for agriculture, particularly by burning, in the latter area has degraded the savanna woodland in places. Burning has exerted a selective pressure on the savanna, favouring fire-resistant species.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mafou. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 30/09/2022.