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Obo National Park is the only national park in Sao Tome and Principe islands covering nearby 30% of the two island land area. Part of the park is found in Sao Tome island covering 235sq km while the other section is on Principe. The entire park area is 300sq km of mainly lush mountain cover of forests, mangroves, swamps and savannah grasslands.
Research has shown that, of the four islands on the Gulf of Guinea, Bioko, Príncipe, São Tomé and Pagalu, the santomean archipelago presents the richest diversity of flora, with high rates of endemism. In fact, since 1988 scientists classified the forests of Sao Tomé and Principe as the second most important in terms of biological interest of the 75 forests of Africa.
Sao Tome and Principe Islands are excellent for bird watching and so is the Park.More than 230 birds are found in the park with half of the population being endemic to the Gulf of Guinea and 28 to Sao Tome and Principe islands. Some of the birds in the park include parrots, Lesser grey shrike, Sao Tome Grosbeak, dwarf olive ibis, pigeons, Sao Tome Scoop owl, sun birds, waxbill and many others.
This is an extraordinary number because islands with the similar dimensions usually have 1 to 2 endemic bird species. In the nineties, Birdlife International included Sao Tome and Principe in the top 25% of 218 “Endemic Bird Area” (EBAs) worldwide for their species richness. More recently, the forest of both islands have been included among the “Important Bird Area” (IBAs) of Africa.
Best time to visit
The best time to go bird watching on the islands is during the months of October until March. This period is also the rainy season when several migrants fly in from all over the Gulf of Guinea and Europe. The rest of the year is dry and particularly good for game viewing and safaris.