Taï National Park

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Pygmy hippos

Taï National Park is the last remaining area of the primary forest that once covered the territories of present-day Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This humid tropical forest, located in the south-west of Côte d'Ivoire, has a high level of endemism, and over 150 species have been identified as endemic to the Taï region. With an area of around 1274 square miles, the park is predominantly dense primary evergreen rain forest, characterized by tall trees (130-200 feet) with massive trunks and sometimes large stilt roots.[1] It is the largest island of forest remaining in West Africa. Some plants previously thought to be extinct (such as Amorphallus staudtii) have been rediscovered in the area. Of the 54 species of large mammal known to occur in this type of rain forest, 47 are found in Taï, of which 5 are threatened, including the Pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis).

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Indigenous population

Two main groups of people live in the area, the rural Bakoui living on the forest edge but having only a marginal impact on the forest, and the aboriginal Baoule who are responsible for most of the forest destruction.[2]

World heritage

The forest was first declared a "Forest and Wildlife Refuge" in 1926. In 1972 it became a National Park, and was declared a Biosphere Reserve five years later. In 1982, having been deemed to contain "superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance", constituting "a most important and significant natural habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation", the forest was placed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.[3]

Threats

The area has suffered extensive poaching. Species taken include elephant for ivory, monkeys and antelopes for bushmeat and crocodile and leopard for skins. The park has also been severely affected by gold panning activities in the central region.[4]

External links

  • UNESCO Site entry. Accessed 16 January 2008

References

  1. Taï National Park Department of Primatology - Field Research Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Accessed 16 January 2008
  2. Population UNESCO Advisory Body Evaluation (1982)
  3. Selection criteria UNESCO. Accessed 16 January 2008
  4. Management Problems World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1992)
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