Upper Guinea Rivers and Streams

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Taï National Park, Ivory Coast.
© WWF-Canon / John E. NEWBY

About the Area

Wet conditions have existed more or less permanently over evolutionary time in the Upper Guinea ecoregion, allowing species to survive here when dry conditions dominated other portions of West Africa.

The Guinean mountain range (> 1,500 meters elevation) and its many waterfalls and rapids further limited the dispersal of aquatic species in the coastal basins into other West African basins.

These isolated conditions have resulted in high species endemism; for example, this ecoregion has several fish species adapted to the turbulent, fast-flowing waters of the coastal rivers and streams.

Size:
307,000 sq. km (116,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:

Small Rivers

Geographic Location:
West Africa: Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
This ecoregion is distinguished by two endemic genera of crabs and dozens of endemic fish species. The many small river basins that drain into the Atlantic are also unique in their high fish richness by area.

The fish species especially adapted to turbulent waters include Epiplatys njalaensis, E. olbrechtsi, and West African catfish (Chrysichthys maurus).

The endemic Mount Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei), which inhabits montane streams on Mount Nimba, is endangered. The imperiled Pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) inhabits the forested watercourses of the lower coastal basins. A number of frogs are restricted to this ecoregion, such as Astylosternus occidentalis, Hyperolius occidentalis, Cardioglossa aureoli, and Bufo cristiglans.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis).
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Featured species

Mount Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei)

The Nimba otter shrew has a fleshy nose, rounded head, compact body, and long tail. Long, gray or dark brown fur usually hides the eyes and most of the ears. It is about 15 cm (6") long and weighs up to 125 g (4 oz).

It shrew requires moist forest or forest-savanna-cultivation mosaics. It occurs in swampy areas and in small rivers and upland forest streams. It is an opportunistic feeder, taking a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as some fish and vegetable matter. Crustacea are the main prey, including crabs of up to 5 - 7 cm (2 - 3") across the carapace. It is thought to locate most of its food (much of it underwater) by touch, using the stiff whiskers in its flattened muzzle. It catches prey on short dives or along river banks, and eats them on land. A short nesting burrow is dug in soft soil. The Nimba otter shrew is nocturnal and semiaquatic. It is solitary.

Read more:
Threats
Serious problems from deforestation, mining of iron ore and diamonds, and the political instability in Liberia and Sierra Leone have had a huge impact on the natural state of this ecoregion.
WWF’s work
WWF Announces Market-Based Plan to Stop Illegal Logging in West and Central Africa
For Release: 10/15/2003

The West and Central Africa Producers Group announced today by WWF initially includes timber companies from Cameroon, Gabon, and Ghana that commit to work with WWF and other partners to achieve environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable forestry practices in their logging concessions and mills.

WWF formed the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN) in recognition of the important role that global markets play in the health of forests. The network brings together groups of producers and buyers of forest products committed to achieving increasingly responsible and certified forestry practices. Through the GFTN, which is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, WWF is working with U.S. and European buyers of forest products from West and Central Africa to institute responsible purchasing policies. WWF has also played a role in promoting transboundary forest protection efforts in the Congo Basin and supported the AFLEG process in cooperation with The World Bank, U.S. State Department and other partners.

Read more:

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