Benin is a relatively small country of 112,000 km2 running in a long strip of just over 800 km from the Atlantic coast to the border with Niger in the far north. The narrow coastal strip of some 100 km stretches from the Togolese border to the frontier with Nigeria. In comparison with some of its neighbours, the avifauna of Benin has been poorly studied.
All the most attractive West African families occur here: this includes over 50 raptor species, owls, hornbills, rollers and bee-eaters as well as several species of kingfisher and barbets. Particularly attractive species include the elegant African Swallow-tailed Kite Chelictinia riocourrii which occurs in the dry season in the Pendjari National Park.
Lake Ahémé and the Aho complex is an extensive area of marsh covering 45,000 ha in the lower Kouffo river and Lake Ahémé. It runs from Ouidah to Grand Popo, where the Mono River also drains into the sea. Royal Tern Sterna maxima is not uncommon here while Damara Tern S. balaenarum has been recorded at Bouche du Roi.
The Lama Forest is situated 70 km north of Cotonou. BirdLife International notes the presence of 106 species "many of which are species of the Guinea-Congo biome."
Text supplied by the African Bird Club
African Swallow-tailed Kite © Nik Borrow