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Republic of Benin

Senegal Thickknee Burhinus senegalensis ©Nigel Blake Website

Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in Western Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north; its short coastline to the south leads to the Bight of Benin. Its size is just over 110,000 km² with a population of almost 8,500,000. Its capital is the Yoruba founded city of Porto Novo, but the seat of government is the Fon city of Cotonou. Benin was known as Dahomey until 1975.

Benin, a narrow, north-south strip of land in west Africa, lies between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer. Benin's latitude ranges from 6°30′N to 12°30′N and its longitude from 1°E to 3°40′E. Benin is bounded by Togo to the west, Burkina Faso and Niger to the north, Nigeria to the east, and the Bight of Benin to the south. With an area of 112,622 square kilometers, roughly the size of Pennsylvania, Benin extends from the Niger River in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south, a distance of 700 kilometers (about 500 miles). Although the coastline measures 121 kilometers (about 80 miles) the country measures about 325 kilometers (about 215 miles) at its widest point. It is one of the smaller countries in West Africa: eight times smaller than Nigeria, its neighbor to the east. It is, however, twice as large as Togo, its neighbor to the west. A relief map of Benin shows that it has little variation in elevation (average elevation 200 meters).

The country can be divided into four areas from the south to the north. The low-lying, sandy, coastal plain (highest elevation 10 meters) is, at most, 10 kilometers wide. It is marshy and dotted with lakes and lagoons communicating with the ocean. The plateaus of southern Benin (altitude between 20 meters and 200 meters) are split by valleys running north to south along the Couffo, Zou, and Oueme Rivers. An area of flat lands dotted with rocky hills whose altitude seldom reaches 400 meters extends around Nikki and Save. Finally, a range of mountains extends along the northwest border and into Togo; this is the Atacora, with the highest point, Mont Sokbaro, at 658 meters. Two types of landscape predominate in the south.

Benin has fields of lying fallow, mangroves, and remnants of large sacred forests. In the rest of the country, the savanna is covered with thorny scrubs and dotted with huge baobab trees. Some forests line the banks of rivers. In the north and the northwest of Benin the Reserve du W du Niger and Pendjari National Park attract tourists eager to see elephants, lions, antelopes, hippos, and monkeys.

Benin's climate is hot and humid. Annual rainfall in the coastal area averages 36 cm. (14 in.), not particularly high for coastal West Africa. Benin has two rainy and two dry seasons. The principal rainy season is from April to late July, with a shorter less intense rainy period from late September to November. The main dry season is from December to April, with a short cooler dry season from late July to early September. Temperatures and humidity are high along the tropical coast. In Cotonou, the average maximum temperature is 31 °C (89 °F); the minimum is 24 °C (75 °F).

Variations in temperature increase when moving north through a savanna and plateau toward the Sahel. A dry wind from the Sahara called the Harmattan blows from December to March. Grass dries up, the vegetation turns reddish brown, and a veil of fine dust hangs over the country, causing the skies to be overcast. It also is the season when farmers burn brush in the fields.

Top Sites

Important Bird Aeas include:

Lake Ahémé & Aho complex; Lake Nokoué; Lama Forest; Ouémé river basin, Pendjari National Park and W du Bénin National Park.

Contributor

Wikipedia

GNU Free Documentation License

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 579

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Birds of Western Africa: An Identification Guide

Nik Borrow and Ron Demey Series: CHRISTOPHER HELM IDENTIFICATION GUIDE SERIES 832 pages, 147 col plates, 1100 dist maps. Christopher Helm

ISBN: 0713639598

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to the Birds of Western Africa

Nik Borrow and Ron Demey Series: HELM FIELD GUIDES 496 pages, 150 col plates, 1300 maps. Christopher Helm
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 0713666927

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Trip Reports

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CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [01 January] - Vincent van der Spek - Burkina Faso & Benin

PDF Report

Where are you going? And where about is that? Isn't that dangerous? That's basically how people responded when I told I was about to visit Burkina Faso, with a side trip to Benin.

Organisations

African Bird Club

Website

In comparison with some of its neighbours, the avifauna of Benin has been poorly studied. Until 1993 only 425 species had been recorded. This was in comparison with 625 for Togo, its neighbour in the Dahomey Gap…

West African Ornithological Society

Website

The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.

Reserves

Benin Parks

Website

…many species of birds.

Important Bird Areas

Website

Clickable list with site descriptions…

Pendjari Biosphere Reserve

Website

Satellite View

Website in French

Other Links

Birds of Niaouli forest, southern Benin

Bulletin

Benin lies in the Dahomey Gap, a region characterised by relatively low annual rainfall (800-1,400 mm) and that savanna reaches almost to the coast, with an almost complete lack of the tropical forest that is a feature of coastal zones in adjacent countries…