Waza National Park is located in the transition zone between the Sahel and Sudan savanna. The park, situated immediately east of the town of Waza, lies less than 10 km from the borders with both Nigeria and Chad. It is bounded to the east and north-east by the Logone flood-plain (CM002) and to the west by the Maroua–Kousséri road. The southern and extreme western parts are covered by sandy soils that support a wooded Sclerocarya birrea and Anogeissus leiocarpus savanna. Most of the park is, however, covered by heavy clay soils and is extremely flat. The north-eastern corner is annually flooded and is covered by perennial grass species such as Echinochloa pyramidalis, Oryza longistaminata and, less commonly, Hyparrhenia rufa and Vetiveria nigritana. A few raised areas, supporting Tamarindus indica and Balanites aegyptiaca trees, constitute the only variation in this open landscape. Large stretches of annual grasses and herbs, interspersed by Acacia seyal shrublands, cover the central and western parts of the park, most of which used to be seasonally inundated prior to the construction of the Maga dam, which lies to the south-east.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Waza National Park harbours, together with the contiguous Logone flood-plain (CM002), some 379 bird species. Other species of global conservation concern include Marmaronetta angustirostris, observed only in 1976, Aythya nyroca, recorded in 1967 and 1976, Aquila clanga, seen in 1978, Falco naumanni, which was common in the 1970s, but recently has only been recorded in 1993 and 1997, and Neotis nuba, which has been recorded once, in 1998. The park contains important populations of grassland species such as Ortyxelos meiffrenii, an estimated 100–200 Ardeotis arabs and holds the last Struthio camelus population in Cameroon, with c.100 individuals. Waterbird counts have recorded, in addition to those listed below, up to 15,000 Dendrocygna viduata while the 1,000+ Balearica pavonina are thought to represent at least 5% of the western population of this species. More than 20,000 waterbirds are thought to be present most of the year.
Non-bird biodiversity: Waza holds some of the last large-mammal concentrations in central West Africa. Of particular conservation interest are Gazella rufifrons (VU) and Damaliscus lunatus korrigum (VU), the former apparently increasing, and the latter the only sizeable population in Cameroon. In addition, the population of c.1,300 Loxodonta africana (EN) has a major impact on the structure of the Acacia seyal shrublands and is a regular source of conflict with farmers at distances of up to 100 km from the park.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The area was gazetted as a Hunting Reserve in 1937, a National Park in 1968, declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1979 and has been proposed, together with the Logone flood-plain, as the first Ramsar Site for Cameroon. Waza National Park was, until recently, the best-managed protected area in Cameroon and has, through its collaboration with the IUCN Waza-Logone project, a management plan and a functioning local steering committee. Trials are under way for the regulated harvesting of some natural products (straw, gum-arabic) inside the park, exploitation of which has never ceased since the park was created. A recent drop in number of park guards has, however, put pressure on these attempts, especially because of continued commercial poaching. Waza has been affected by Maga dam, constructed in 1979, which resulted in a decrease of annual flooding and the consequent degradation of the flood-plain vegetation. This led to a massive reduction in antelope populations. The digging of artificial waterholes has assured year-round water availability, but the carrying capacity of the flood-plain has remained low. Flood-plain rehabilitation, which started in 1994, has had some impact on the interior of Waza.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Waza National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2021.