The Keran National Park (Parc National de la Kéran), the Réserve de Faune de Oti and the Réserve de Mandouri & La Fosse de Dung are three protected areas in Togo and together form the Oti-Kéran-Mandouri complex (OKM), that currently covers an area of ​​over 3,500 sq. km.

These protected areas are very important from both an ecological and a cultural point of view; they have great tourist potential, even if little exploited, and are found along important corridors of the migration of elephants and other large mammals.

The OKM complex has a very varied topography, dominated by river basins and vast plains, that give life to the various ecosystems found in this area.

The main biomes present in the Oti-Kéran-Mandouri complex are made up of savannahs of the Sudanese and Guinean type, besides there are forests along the watercourses; this type of vegetation favors the presence of many animal species.

The areas that make up the OKM complex are all located in the plain of the Oti River, the main river of this region of savannah, that originates in Benin, on the Eastern side of the Atakora mountains.

The Oti plain has a climate characterized by two seasons: a rainy season, in the months of May to October, during which temperatures range between a minimum of 22 ° C and a maximum of 34 ° C, and a dry season, in the months from November to April when there are temperatures ranging from a minimum of 17 ° C to a maximum of 39 ° C during the dry season and during the rainy season.

The civil war, that took place in the country at the end of the last century, had disastrous consequences on this area, that was damaged by the poaching, often of food subsistence for the population, and by the excessive exploitation of the vegetation, to obtain coal and firewood.

At the end of the civil war this area has experienced a moment of abandonment, while, in recent years, the state has finally decided to invest in conservation and the results have not been slow to arrive.

As a first result, the Oti-Kéran-Mandouri area has become part of the WAPO; the complex called WAPO consists of the Region Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, that extends across the borders of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso, from the Biosphere Reserve and the Pendjari National Park in Benin, from the Arly National Park in Burkina Faso and, indeed, from the Oti-Kéran-Mandouri complex in Togo.

The WAPO complex is the largest and most important conservation area in West Africa, this area includes several terrestrial, semi-aquatic and aquatic ecosystems, it is also the most significant territory for the conservation of forest elephants and lions of the West Africa, in addition to being an important natural refuge for vulnerable or endangered animal species.

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Keran National Park - Photo Credits: Damien Halleux Rademecker

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Oti-Mandouri Reserve: hammerkop - Photo Credits: Romina Facchi