The Oti-Mandouri Reserve, or Mandouri Wildlife Reserve and the Dung Moat, extends in the area of the Oti River Valley over an area of 1,878.40 sq km; it borders to the North with Burkina Faso and to the East with Benin, where the Mandouri reserve is adjacent to the large nature reserve and Penjari National Park.
The Oti-Mandouri nature reserve is located in the Savana Region, straddling the Kpendal and Oti prefectures; this reserve plays a very important role as it constitutes a fundamental corridor for the elephant migration.
This vast woodland plain, dotted with natural ponds, is an area that in the future could become a place that attracts many visitors, even though today it is still almost unknown to most visitors; the surface also includes the Fosse Sacrée de Doung, the Dung Moat, a sacred well where spirits dwell.
The tourist facilities in the park are rather spartan, but today the park is undergoing a redevelopment activity, after it was invaded by local people, fleeing the civil war.
Its proximity to the other naturalistic areas, that constitute the WAPO complex, in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, justifies the efforts, that have been carried out, to restore the habitat of this area, that constitutes a very important migratory corridor of the elephants and of other mammals, and that connects the OTK complex and other areas of the WAPO complex.
The reserve was created on April 25, 1977 in the area where the Borgou classified forest was present; the biomes present are constituted by bushy savannah, wooded savannah and gallery forest.
Here are several species of plants such as the Afzelia africana, the jackalberry, the Khaya senegalensis, the shea or Vitellaria paradoxa, the nerè or Parkia biglobosa, a plant that belongs to the mimosa family (African locust bean), and the Combretum.
The herbaceous vegetation is composed of Gamba grass or Andropogon gayanus and some grasses such as the Hyparrhenia rufa (jaragua grass) and the Hyparrhenia cylindrica.
There are many natural pools and important rivers, that allow an abundant and diversified birdlife, here, in the months between November and March, there are numerous Palaearctic migratory birds.
The park has been classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
Before to be invaded by the population, in the park lived numerous mammals, that, subsequently, just to escape the human-animal conflict, have moved to the territories of the nearby Pendjari National Park.
Recently the human settlements have been moved outside the borders of the park and therefore the animals are progressively returning, you can admire the Buffon’s Kob, the Grimm duiker, the forest buffalo, the baboon, the Patas monkey, the vervet monkey, the warthog, the hippo, the elephant and some small predators like the jackal.
The park is an example of successful redevelopment of an area, that had been heavily damaged by poaching, carbonization and human settlement.
The rehabilitation program of protected areas has promoted many awareness campaigns among local populations, and has encouraged regular work sessions by the administrative authorities; this has led to greater awareness on the part of local populations to the point that some villages have moved voluntarily and have settled beyond the borders of the complex.
An aerial census, for the control of the elephant populations in the WAPO and OKM complexes, testifies the redevelopment of the vegetative part and the consequent and progressive return of the animals.
A safari in this park is an opportunity to admire the animals, but above all to help redevelop an important place, in the Mandouri village there are prepared guides who can make the park known.