This site is a diverse area in the centre of the country, comprising the three contiguous forest reserves of the Forêt Classée de l’Ouémé Supérieur (09º35’N 02º30’E; 177,542 ha), the Forêt Classée de Ouari-Maro (09º09’N 02º25’E; 107,500 ha) and the Forêt Classée des Monts Kouffé (08º45’N 02º06’E; 180,300 ha). The former two straddle the Ouémé river west and south-west of the town of Parakou, and are separated from each other by the Parakou–Natitingou road, while the latter is to the south of these, with the Ouémé river forming its eastern boundary and the Adjiro river its southern and western borders.The area is within the Northern Guinea savanna zone and the main vegetation-types include savanna woodland up to 20 m high, with a dense understorey dominated by Afzelia africana, Daniella oliveri and Khaya senegalensis, and dense semi-deciduous forest, occurring in small patches in the western part of Monts Kouffé Forest Reserve towards the border with Togo and in the Monts Kouffé themselves in the centre of the reserve, and consisting of tall trees up to 40 m high (Antiaris africana, Ceiba pentandra, Cola cordifolia, Milicia excelsa and Ricinodendron heudelotii) over a subcanopy layer dominated by Dialium guineensis, Mimusops andongensis, Holarrhena floribunda, Drypetes floribunda and Malacantha alnifolia. Similar vegetation forms gallery forest along rivers and thinner riverine forest also occurs. In addition, the IBA encompasses rocky outcrops, small ponds and marshes next to the Ouémé river. Average annual rainfall is 1,200 mm, mostly falling between May and October.
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The area is important due to its large size and relatively undisturbed habitat. It is one of the few places in the country where Ceratogymna albotibialis occurs and is a refuge for many of the rarer birds of prey (e.g. Haliaeetus vocifer) and passerines. Circus macrourus has been recorded occasionally in January and November. The area has yet to be surveyed comprehensively.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern include Cephalophus maxwelli (LR/nt), C. silvicultor (LR/nt) and C. rufilatus (LR/cd). The IBA includes the type-locality, and the only one known in Benin, for the grasshopper Truxaloides chekei.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ouémé river basin. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/04/2020.