The Keran National Park is located in the North of Togo, in the plain of the Oti river, straddling the Oti Prefecture, in the Savana region to the North, and the Kéran Prefecture, in the Kara region to the South; the park covers an area of 1,700 sq. km.
The Oti Wildlife Reserve is also located in the Oti river valley and covers an area of 1,878.40 sq. Km.
The two naturalistic areas have been united in a single protected area that has been called Oti-Keran National Park.
The two prefectures of Oti and Kéran give the name to the park, that extends right inside the territories of the two prefectures.
The first protected area in this place was created on September 28, 1950 on the site of a sacred forest, and covered a surface of only 67 sq km; this protected area was extended, in the years from 1971 to 1976, until reaching an area of 3,500 square kilometers and, subsequently, became the Kéran and Oti national park and reserve, to protect the savannah ecosystems typical of Northern Togo.
The Oti-Kéran National Park is located in the Sudanese climate zone, with a dry tropical climate, characterized by two seasons: a rainy season, in the months from March to October, and a dry season, in the months from November to February.
The park was redeveloped after local populations entered the national park area in the early 1990s and damaged the ecosystem, ruining the vegetation and illegally hunting wild animals.
During the civil war, the difficult conditions in which the country was spread pushed more and more people to look for new lands and new opportunities and the park became, unfortunately, a land of conquest and its size was reduced by more than half.
Fortunately, some areas of the park managed to save themselves from this moment of crisis; in particular, areas that are unsuitable for agriculture or human settlement and areas near the rangers’ barracks have managed to preserve their conservation status, offering shelter to wild animals.
Even the number of animals in those years suffered a drastic decline; in part they were hunted for meat and ivory and in part escaped to neighboring countries that, at that time, guaranteed them more security and tranquility.
The vegetation of the park now consists of savannahs and gallery forests along the river; in the park there are 233 species of plants and shrubs.
As for the fauna of the Oti-Kéran National Park, before the invasion by man, it was very rich and diversified; after the crisis of which it was the victim, now it is slowly recovering and recent censuses have detected the presence of buffalos, kob antelopes, giraffes, hippos, roan antelopes, warthogs, duikers, water antelopes, various species of monkeys and even some predators like spotted hyenas and lions.
In total, 116 species of mammals were recorded in the plain of Oti, among them forest elephants were also sighted, it is not a population resident in the park, but they are specimens that make regular raids, to get food or to move from one park to another during the annual migration.
As far as the birds are concerned, 274 species of birds have been sighted in the plain of Oti, of which about 77 species of waterfowl, among these the egrets, the storks, the goliath herons and the crowned cranes are worthy of note.
In the park there are also 25 species of amphibians and 58 species of reptiles, among them the Muller's Sand Boa and the Python sebae are certainly noteworthy, but in the park there are also lizards, crocodiles and numerous freshwater turtles, including two very rare species: the Senegal flapshell turtle and the Trionyx triunguis a softshell turtle.
With regard to the fish fauna, there are 24 species of fish in the Oti river, divided into 17 families.