This transnational extension (Benin, Burkina Faso) to the W National Park of Niger, inscribed in 1996 on the World Heritage List, cover a major expanse of intact Sudano-Sahelian savannah, with vegetation types including grasslands, shrub lands, wooded savannah and extensive gallery forests. It includes the largest and most important continuum of terrestrial, semi-aquatic and aquatic ecosystems in the West African savannah belt. The property is a refuge for wildlife species that have disappeared elsewhere in West africa or are highly threatened. It is home to the largest population of elephants in West africa and most of the large mammals typical of the region, such as the African Manatee, cheetah, lion and leopard. It also harbours the only viable population of lions in the region.
The 11,130m2 property, the first to be inscribed in the country, with its imposing stone walls is the best preserved of ten fortresses in the Lobi area and is part of a larger group of 100 stone enclosures that bear testimony to the power of the trans-Saharan gold trade. Situated near the borders of Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, the ruins have recently been shown to be at least 1,000 years old. The settlement was occupied by the Lohron or Koulango peoples, who controlled the extraction and transformation of gold in the region when it reached its apogee from the 14th to the 17th century. Much mystery surrounds this site large parts of which have yet to be excavated. The settlement seems to have been abandoned during some periods during its long history. The property which was finally deserted in the early 19th century is expected to yield much more information.
This property is composed of five elements located in different provinces of the country. It includes about fifteen standing, natural-draught furnaces, several other furnace structures, mines and traces of dwellings. Douroula, which dates back to the 8th century BCE, is the oldest evidence of the development of iron production found in Burkina Faso. The other components of the property – Tiwêga, Yamané, Kindibo and Békuy – illustrate the intensification of iron production during the second millennium CE. Even though iron ore reduction –obtaining iron from ore – is no longer practiced today, village blacksmiths still play a major role in supplying tools, while taking part in various rituals.