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Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot

The Guinean forests of West Africa extend over an area of 620,314 sq km and stretch from Guinea in the west to Cameroon located in the east. The hotspot has a mixed vegetation type that range from moist coastal forests to freshwater swamp forests and semi-deciduous forests.

The hotspot has 9,000 plant, 320 mammal, 785 bird, 210 reptile, 221 amphibian and 512 amphibian species. Many commercially important varieties of plants African ebony (Diospyros gracilis), African mahogany (Entandophragma and Khaya), and iroko (Milicia excelsa), are found here. The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) widely planted in the tropics for oil production is native to this region. Endemic birds of this region include the Mount Kupe bush-shrike (Malaconotus kupeensis), Bannerman's turaco (Tauraco bannermani), banded wattle-eye (Platysteira laticincta), dwarf olive ibis (Bostrychia bocagei), giant sunbird (Nectarinia thomensis) and giant weaver (Ploceus grandis).

From scattered populations of great apes like the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and the gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) to the Diana monkey (Cercopithecus diana) and the world's smallest colobine monkey, the olive colobus (Procolobus verus), the Guinean forests of West Africa have a fascinating mix of 30 species of primates. Other mammals distinctive to the region include the rare pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis), Liberian mongoose (Liberiictis kuhnii), Jentink's duiker (Cephalophus jentinki) and the zebra duiker (Cephalophus zebra).

Among reptiles distinctive endemic species found here are the Liberia worm snake (Typhlops leucostictus) and the Los Archipelago worm lizard (Cynisca leonine). Amphibian diversity is poorly documented but the hotspot has a high diversity of tree frogs. Some remarkable amphibians are the Mount Nimba toad (Nimbaphrynoides occidentalis) that gives birth to fully developed toadlets and the threatened Goliath frog (Conraua goliath) that can grow as large as 30 cm and weigh as much as 3.3 kg. The region also has nearly 25% of the world's population of killifish and over 60 species of cichlid fishes.

Commercial agriculture, plantations, logging, mining, civil strife and use of forest products for construction and fuelwood are important causes for destruction of the forest cover. The bushmeat trade in West Africa is growing at an alarming rate. The bush meat trade and the presence of over a million civil war refugees threatens to cause the Empty Forest Syndrome wiping out most of the large mammals and birds of the West African forests.

About 108,104 sq km or 17.4% of the land is under some form of official protection. International conservation organisations active in the region include, Conservation International, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the United States Agency for International Development.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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