Gulf of Guinea Rivers & Streams

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Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, Nigeria.
© WWF-Canon / Meg GAWLER

About the Area

Some of the principal rivers in this ecoregion are the Cross, Ogooué, Sanaga, Nyong, Ntem, and Kouilou, which run through equatorial forest and savanna before emptying into the Gulf of Guinea.
These rivers contain some of the highest endemism levels for any of Africa's riverine freshwater systems. There is also great species variation among streams and often within the same river basin.

The brightly colored killifishes live in mountain streams, coastal lagoons, and in shallow pools -- wherever they can find a place to bury their eggs. Killifish even lay their eggs in pools created by elephant’s footprints!
Size:
521,000 sq. km (208,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Small Rivers

Geographic Location:
Central West Africa: Cameroon, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable
Local Species
This ecoregion is home to at least ten endemic species of crabs, and has the second highest richness in fish species of river systems in Africa. Species include a variety of endemic Killifish (Aphyosemion spp.), Barbs (Barbus spp.), and Cichlids (Cichlidae).

Parts of this ecoregion reportedly support the highest densities of amphibian species in mainland Africa, including the most distinctive of these - the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath). These waters are also home to the Giant African water shrew (Potomogale velox).

Featured species

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Urs WOY
Giant slippery frog (Conraua goliath) drawing.
© WWF-Canon / Urs WOY
Goliath frog (Conraua goliath)

The biggest kind of frog is the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath). Their bodies can reach the size of nearly a foot (30 cm) long. The Conraua Goliath weighs as much as a large housecat, about 3.3 kilos! It has a ten foot leap.

Despite their enormous size as adults, eggs and tadpoles of goliath frogs are about the same size as those of other frogs. Like many other species that are the largest members of an evolutionary group, goliath frogs have a very small range. They're found only in a few swift-moving rivers that wind through a fringe of dense rain forest in coastal sections of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea in western Africa.

They are prized as food by the Bayele, a tribe of pygmies, who also value their thigh bones for their presumed power to bring good luck. Formerly much sought after by zoological parks, the goliath frog is now protected by law

Goliath frogs don't breed or survive well in captivity. The only real hope for their survival is the preservation of wild populations.

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Threats
The planned construction of dams and continued deforestation are the biggest threats to the aquatic habitats and species in the ecoregion. The aquarium trade and introduced species also threaten native fish populations.
WWF’s work
Stretching from the Mountains of the Moon in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, the Congo Basin contains a quarter of the world's tropical forests, second only to the Amazon Basin.

On the ground, WWF and its partners have habituated gorillas for research and ecotourism, control the bushmeat problem, help indigenous groups such as the Ba'Aka pygmies hold onto their traditional way of life, search for solutions to the Ebola outbreaks that are killing villagers and devastating gorilla populations, and working with logging companies to halt poaching and reduce deforestation.

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