The approximately 3300 km² national park in the south-west of the Ivory Coast is one of the last large rainforest areas in West Africa according to findjobdescriptions. It is home to around 150 endemic plant species and numerous mammal species including monkeys, chimpanzees, giant pangolin, bush pigs, Jentink and yellow-bridged ducks, pygmy hippopotamus, African buffalo and forest elephants.
Tai National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Taï National Park|
|Natural monument||originally a forest and game reserve since 1926, national park since 1972 with an area of 3330 km² and a buffer zone of 200 km², highest point Mont Niénokoué (623 m), remnant of a primary forest that once stretched from Ghana to Sierra Leone|
|country||Ivory Coast, Guiglo and Sassandra|
|location||between the Cavally and Sassandra Rivers, south of Man|
|meaning||important remaining primary rainforest in West Africa and home to threatened species such as the pygmy hippopotamus|
|Flora and fauna||evergreen rainforest with 150 species of plants that can only be found here; i.a. Antler fern species, nest fern species Asplenium africanus and the fern species Nephrolepsis biserrata, belonging to the genus Nephrolepsis, ebony tree, climbing palms of the genus Eremospatha and Amorphophallus studtii, which belongs to the araceae family; Presence of 47 of the 54 mammal species found in the Guinea rainforest, including five endangered species; Among the mammals, the mona and Diana monkey, the great white-nosed monkey, estimated up to 2800 chimpanzees, giant pangolin, bush pig, African stag pig, small ram, as well as jentink and yellow-bridge duiker, green colobus monkey; 230 bird species, of which 143 species are typical primary forest residents, among others. Ragworm eater and white-breasted guinea fowl|
Nutcracker in the steaming canopy
Noisy, whistling and croaking, more and more residents of the jungle speak out, which just releases the moss-green clearing with a handful of simple huts from its embrace. There is busy life all around, but only orange-red birds briefly stand out from the impenetrable mountains of leaves. A long-tailed shadow flits through the leaf crowns. Seconds later, the bird’s colorful feathers disappear again in the rising morning mist.
The small research station in the national park can only accommodate guests in emergencies, and they should have a proven interest and understanding of the stressful life in the jungle. The basic requirement for a visit to the park is a not so easy to obtain special permit from the ministry responsible for nature conservation.
Without the helpful guidance of the gamekeeper, orientation in the dense rainforest is impossible. Impressive giant trees let only a few rays of sunlight fall on the forest floor: majestic ebony and mahogany trees have won the battle for light after centuries. The damp ground floor of the forest is home to various types of lizards and well camouflaged insects that seek the distance from the soles of the troublemakers’ feet.
For thousands of years a dense forest carpet overgrown large parts of West Africa, but only the Taï National Park remains as the last intact vegetation island. In some places meandering rivers run through the thicket, which flow into swampy lowlands. An almost infinite variety of birds can be observed especially in these open spots, of which the Crowned Cranes are certainly among the most graceful. Iridescent kingfishers lurk for prey, and a group of squat white-breasted guinea fowl move in the rustling undergrowth.
Different species of colobus monkeys and lively monkeys roam the treetops in search of fruit. Red colobus monkeys and Diana monkeys hold together against their worst enemies and emit unmistakable screams of warning at the slightest suspicion. The chimpanzees living here, by no means vegetarians, have developed a clever hunting method that guarantees a meal with fresh meat as a reward for teamwork. Individual chimpanzees drive the colobus monkeys into an ambush and isolate a single monkey while hunting from branch to branch. The most agile hunter then “kills” his victim with a trick: At the last second, the crucial branch, which is important for the further flight of the prey, is bent to the side and it falls straight into the arms of the hunting family lurking on the ground. While this chimpanzee hunt has only been observed from close up by a few people, the cracking noises during the nut harvest can be heard over a wide area. With a few skillful strokes, the tasty kola nut is broken between an “anvil stone” and a selected “hand ax”. In order to save time, experienced “nutcrackers” take their best stones with them into the treetops, where hollows in branches act as a natural “anvil”, an ideal prerequisite for breaking open the hard shell quickly.
The remaining forest elephants appear extremely seldom in the clearings; and only a few human visitors are allowed to spot a pygmy hippopotamus among the reeds. On the way to the southeast of the national park, traces of forest pigs and Cape buffalo can be found everywhere. After a lot of organizational effort, the excursion to Mont Niénokoué, which you can clearly see its volcanic origin, succeeds. From the summit of the “Inselberg”, which protrudes from the otherwise quite flat landscape, the threat to the last forest paradise can be seen well: The pressure of land-seeking farmers, lumberjacks and hunters on the protection zone is increasing. Especially during the civil war that lasted from 1990 to 2003 in Liberia, just a few kilometers to the east, tens of thousands of refugees crossed the border, for whom the forest seemed to be the only source of food; there was more hunting during this time. People penetrated the national park from all sides in search of building and fuel material and decimated the existing forest area through felling. It is to be hoped that by joining forces we will succeed in preserving the last intact jungle in West Africa.