The park lies in south-eastern Senegal, straddling the upper Gambia river and its tributaries (the Koulountou and the Niokolo-Koba), and close to and, in part, along the international frontier with Guinea, where it is contiguous with Badiar National Park (GN001). The park is largely flat, but includes a line of low hills in the east, reaching up to around 200 m (maximum 311 m at Mont Assirik).
PNNK hosts the property remarkable and unique wildlife diversity in the subregion. There are more than 70 species of Mammals, 329 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 20 species of amphibians and many species of invertebrates. Big mammals include lions, leopards, Derby Elands, and 3 elephants remain in this park. There are also antelopes, monkeys, warthogs, baboons, buffaloes, hippos and crocodiles in the streams. Other important species are also present such as elephant, leopard, chimpanzee and lycaon (EN). The diversity of the flora is important with more than 1500 species of plants.
Habitat and land use
Much of the area in PNNK is formed from laterite (iron pans) and sediments overlying Cambrian sandstone beds that outcrop in places. There are large areas of flood-plain and marsh (mainly in abandoned riverbeds and behind levées), inundated during the seasonal rains (June to October); mean annual rainfall is over 1,000 mm. The vegetation includes southern Sudan–Guinea savanna, with gallery forest and more luxuriant vegetation along watercourses and Vetiveria grasses or herbaceous savanna dominated by Andropogon gayanus in the valleys and plains. Flooded grassland areas are composed of Paspalum orbiculare and Echinocloa sp. Dry forest contains patches of bamboo Oxytenanthera abyssinica. The ravines and gallery forest include typical plant species of the Guinea–Congo Forest biome such as lianas and Raphia sudanica, Baissea multiflora, Nauclea latifolia, Dalbergia saxatilis and Landolphia dulcis. The vegetation on the slopes and hills, rocky outcrops, alluvial sands and iron pans is different. Semi-aquatic species and annuals appear along rivers and on periodically inundated sands. Dry forest or herbaceous savanna is found along the borders of some ponds, and thickets of thorn-bush, Mimosa pigra, occupy the centre of some marshes. Marsh vegetation on higher ground and acid soils includes Oryza brachyantha (wild rice) and, on humid banks, localized species such as Christiana africana, Cola laurifolia, Cynometra vogelii, Syzygium guineense, and Ziziphus amphibia occur. Riverbank species also include Acacia nilotica, Khaya senegalensis, Erythrophleum guineense, Ceiba pentandra, Afzelia africana and Borassus sp. Over 1,500 plant species have been recorded in the park.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Officially the park is strictly protected and managed according to a management plan which includes restoration of natural ecosystems. However, PNNK is facing various threats including: • Poaching, catching and moving wildlife, especially large mammals mainly Buffaloes and various antelopes. • Fire is used as means of savanna function within and outside the park and uncontrolled burning has caused damage to habitats in the park • Invasive species (Mimosa pigra and Mitrogena) • Illegal logging • Illegal fishing • Livestock grazing • Road construction • Potential exploration and mining • Sambangalou dam construction project (not yet started): The Sambangalou dam project is expected to be constructed in Senegal 930 km upstream from the mouth of the Gambia River and about 25 km south of Kedougou. All the structures, service installations, work site facilities and access roads are located in Senegal, through which supplies and equipment are transported. With a capacity of 128MW and generation potential of 400GWh, Sambangalou’s main purpose will be electric power. However, the volume of the reservoir, which covers an area of 181 km², may contribute to downstream development, especially irrigation. It is, therefore, a project with positive benefits but which also presents environmental and social risks, especially in terms of population resettlement and with respect to the wetlands downstream along the Gambia River. • The Climate change is affecting the forest and wetlands inside and is highly causing the pond drainage and the drought especially on the pools and streams which are not connected to the Guinea River. This affects the population and movement of ducks and cranes.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
a. Anti-poaching team created since 2010, monthly patrols and informers from the community groups. b. Direction des Parcs Nationaux (DPN) ensure the daily protection of the park c. There was terrestrial animal survey in 2014 and monthly bird survey by PNNK staff d. Sites support groups/ IBA caretakers: • GIE Niokolo-Tourist guide • GIE Niokolo- Group of fishermen, they contribute to the forest maintenance • Foundation of Niokolo and Association of Local Veterinary Assistants assist with • The management plan of 2000 has expired and a request to renew the plan was submitted to UNESCO e. Other partners on the site and their activities ie NGOs or research institution: • UNESCO covers the salaries of staff • Research on the ecology of Derby Eland by university of Plack • Various supports ie American Peace Corps • NCD conducted the Bird survey with funding from African Birding Club and is now conducting a project “Science-Citoyenne” which will engage local stakeholders including GIE Niokolo and PNNK.