Western Africa, in comparison with Eastern and Southern Africa, is generally poorer in the amount of large animal species it has, mainly in their overall numbers, but still there is a lot of creatures to see and admire.
The PNNK represents an extensive area of preserved ecosystems in Western Africa the significance of which exceeds the state’s borders and is the last refuge for large animals in the area. The park is a haven for 80 species of mammals, 330 birds, 38 reptiles, 20 amphibians and 60 species of fish. The large animals draw the most attention of which we can name from the bovids family (Bovidae): Bubale hartbeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus major), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), Kob (Kobus kob), Defassa waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa), Western giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus derbianus), Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus), Bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca), Oribi (Ourebia ourebi), Grimm’s duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia), Red-flanked duiker (Cephalophus rufilatus), Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), from the pigs and hogs (Suidae): Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), Red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus), and others. Apart from these ungulates we can also find other large mammals such as the lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), serval (Felis serval), caracal (Felis caracal), Striped jackal (Canis adustus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), Spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta), Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas), Vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops), Guinea baboon (Papio papio), chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus). Further there are a number of representatives from the orders Insectivora (3), Chiroptera (15), Primates (5), Carnivora (20), Proboscidea (1), Hyracoidea (1), Tubulidentata (1), Artiodactyla (14), Rodentia and Lagomorpha (9) (Anonymous 2000).
The Niokolo Koba national park has in its list two extinct species, these being the Korrigum hartebeest (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum), which was hunted to extinction by the colonial hunters in the 1920’s and the West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta). The last mention of giraffes in Senegal is from 1950. In 1971 an attempt was made at reintroducing 7 giraffes into the PNNK from Cameroon. This attempt failed and the animals died. The reason was clearly exhaustion from the demanding journey, the animals’ subsequently poor adaptation to the new conditions and an untimely veterinary intervention (Dupuy 1972).
In 2006 the aerial and ground census focused on medium and large mammals was carried out in PNNK. The comparison with previous counts revealed a clear continued decline of abundance index as well as contact per 100 km of almost all species. Almost all the species showed restricted area of distribution, leaving large areas within the national park empty. The endangered Western giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus derbianus) was presented only in one herd of 73 individuals and could be stated as critically endangered notably by human activities in the park (Renaud et al. 2006).