W National Park in Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin

The W National Park in Niger is a biodiversity gem in Benin, bordering Burkina Faso and Niger. It is renowned for its abundance of wildlife and stunning natural landscape.

Location and Size of W National Park

The park is situated in the northeastern region of Benin and also extends into Burkina Faso and Niger, covering a total area of approximately 10,000 square kilometers.

W National Park

Meaning of the name "W" in Benin’s National Park

The name "W" comes from the Niger River that flows through the park, forming a "W" shape on the map.

History and UNESCO World Heritage Site Recognition

The W National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, highlighting its ecological and cultural significance.

Geography and Climate of the Park

Geography and Topography

The park features a diversity of landscapes, from savannas to forests, and is home to the Niger River, which is vital to its ecosystem.

Climate and Seasons

The climate in the park is tropical, with a rainy season from May to September and a dry season from October to April.

Biodiversity of Niger’s W National Park



The park is home to a variety of mammals, including elephants, lions, hippos, and buffalos, among others.


It is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 350 bird species recorded.

Reptiles and Amphibians

The park also houses a variety of reptiles and amphibians, contributing to its wildlife diversity.



The park’s vegetation ranges from tall grass savannas to dense riparian forests along the Niger River.

Native Tree and Plant Species

It hosts a variety of native tree and plant species, some of which are endemic to the region.

Conservation and Threats

Conservation Measures

The park follows a rigorous conservation approach, including anti-poaching patrols and environmental education projects.

Threats to Biodiversity

The park faces several challenges, including poaching, deforestation, and changes in land use.

Tourism in Niger’s W National Park

Accessibility and Accommodation

The park is accessible by road, and there are several accommodation options available for visitors, from campsites to luxury lodges.

Activities and Tourist Attractions

Available activities include safaris, birdwatching, hiking, and cultural exploration. The park’s natural majesty and rich biodiversity are the main attractions for tourists.

Tips for Visitors

Respecting the park’s rules is essential to ensure the conservation of its biodiversity. Visitors should also consider the climate and plan accordingly.

Local Culture and History

Local People and Cultures

The region around the park is inhabited by several local communities, each with its own unique culture and traditions. The involvement of these communities is crucial in the park’s conservation efforts.

Local History and Cultural Legacy

The region has witnessed a rich history reflected in the cultural diversity of the local communities and in the historical and archaeological sites in and around the park.

The Three W Parks

W National Park of Niger

Covering an area of 2,200 km², the W National Park of Niger lies between the Tapoa and Mékrou rivers, tributaries of the Niger River. It was established in 1954 in a sector of the Niger River’s curve, which forms a W shape. In 1996, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the parks of Burkina Faso and Benin. It obtained Ramsar site status in 2007 and was reconfirmed as a World Heritage Site in 2017.

W National Park of Burkina Faso

Covering an area of 2,350 km², the W National Park of Burkina Faso is located in the heart of the protected area of southeastern Burkina. It is part of the W-Arly-Pendjari complex, bordering Niger and Benin. This park is characterized by an extensive network of rivers, drainage areas, and floodplains. It has a diversity of vegetation, from shrubs and savanna trees to gallery forests. It hosts a number of notable bird species and is home to the only colonies of hooded vultures in Burkina.

W National Park of Benin

The W National Park of Benin extends over an area of 5,020 km², between the Mékrou and Alibori rivers, which are tributaries of the Niger River. The park includes vast areas of Sudanese savanna woodland and significant stretches of gallery forest along the Mékrou and Alibori rivers. Swamplands of international interest for birdwatching can also be found in this park. The park is distinguished by its varied landscapes, including shrublands, forests, and savannas.

Photo Gallery


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  • "Parc National du W". Bradt Guides, Introducing Benin.
  • "Climate, W National Park of Niger". Unesco.
  • "W-Arly-Pendjari Complex". Unesco (in English).
  • "Physical Features, W National Park of Niger". International Union for Conservation of Nature and UN Environment World Conservation (in English). 04, 2011.
  • Lungren et alt., Clark. "Burkina Faso". Bird Life International.
  • "Site Ramsar du Complexe W". Ramsar Sites Information Service (iin English).
  • "BENIN: African Parks takes over Beninese part of the W National Park". Afrik21 (in English).
  • "W National Park in Benin now falls under African Parks management". Africa Geographic (in English). July 14, 2020.
  • "Parc d’Arly : Le 1er site naturel du Burkina classé patrimoine mondial". Sidwaya, Quotidien burkinabè d’information (in French).