The only birdwatchers in Togo?
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
28 September, 2022
Malachite Kingfisher (Corythornis cristatus) at a wetland on the outskirts of Togo’s capital, Lomé. Photo by Nico Arcilla.
IBCP has just completed another bird research trip in Togo in collaboration with our partners at the University of Lomé. Following up on work by Olivier Boissier and colleagues in Fazao-Malfakassa National Park earlier this year, Nico Arcilla and colleagues documented birds and assessed threats to their conservation in both formally protected areas as well as other areas in Togo. Unfortunately, many Togolese bird and other wildlife populations have declined and disappeared in recent decades, and surviving populations are increasingly threatened by rapidly expanding consumption of natural resources, including inside protected areas and sacred forests.
In 2015, after 25 years of management by the Swiss Franz Weber Foundation, responsibility for Fazao-Malfakassa National Park reverted to government of Togo, resulting in changes that we will document in upcoming reports. During visits to Fazao village, Kalaré, and Bounako, we investigated birds in the eastern and northern parts of the park, noting their presence, abundance, and locations, and photographing them whenever possible.
University of Lomé graduate student Lin-Ernni Mikégraba Kaboumba in Fazao-Malfakassa National Park. Photo by Nico Arcilla.
While Togo’s birds remain poorly known, over 600 species have been reported in this country of ~57,000 km2, which is slightly smaller than the American state of West Virginia. Fortunately, University of Lomé graduate student Lin-Ernni Mikégraba Kaboumba appears set to become the first Togolese ornithologist through his work under his graduate advisor, Dr. Komlan Afiademanyo.
During our trip, it often seemed that we were the only birdwatchers in Togo, including in Fazao-Malfakassa National Park as well as elsewhere in Togo’s Savannes and Maritime regions. In fact this was not the case, as exemplified by a vendor selling slingshots used to hunt birds who passed us on a road by a wetland teeming with birds on the last morning of our trip. We hope our collaboration with Togolese colleagues will help bring more appreciation to the beauty, spirit, and cultural value of living birds in Togo. More details will appear in posts to follow!
A vendor selling slingshots (catapults) widely used to hunt birds in Togo. Photo by Nico Arcilla.