Iona National Park is one of the largest parks in Angola. Many species of reptiles, plants, and birds occur only in this ecoregion.
Because of its remote location and despite its arid landscape, Iona National Park is home to a unique iodiversity, with many mammal, bird and reptile species occurring only in this ecoregion.
Iona National Park is situated in the south-west corner of Angola and constitutes the northern tip of the Namib Desert, considered to be the oldest desert in the world. Iona is contiguous with Skeleton Coast National Park in Namibia, creating – in conjunction with the Namibe Partial Reserve to the north – one of the largest transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) in the world. Together, they cover nearly 50,000 km2, of which Iona National Park spans 15,150 km2 – one of the largest parks in Angola.
Although declared a national park in 1964, this region endured over four decades of conflict, including the independence war (1961-1974) and the Angolan civil war (1975-2002). During this time, rhino and elephant populations were eradicated, infrastructure destroyed, and tremendous hardship endured by local communities. With the end of the conflict, local communities began to return to previously untouched areas of the park, putting additional pressure on the remnant wildlife populations and limiting their access to available resources. But through it all, life held on; today, viable populations of zebra, oryx, and springbok remain, along with remnant populations of cheetah, leopard, and brown hyaena.
Seeking to protect this extraordinary landscape, the Angolan Government partnered with African Parks in December 2019 to revive Iona and ensure its long-term ecological, social, and economic sustainability, for both its wildlife and its people. With conservation and the optimisation of tourism and other sustainable revenue-generating activities, Iona has the potential to support healthy ecosystems, both terrestrial and at the terrestrial-marine interface, to benefit people long into the future.
The park represents a specialist destination for its unique species and landscape; however, much infrastructure and a thorough understanding of the key factors still constraining wildlife recovery is needed. Effective conservation law enforcement and community engagement are our main priorities. In addition to increasing the numbers of current species, there are several mammal species that were eradicated from the area, so future reintroductions of elephant, black rhino and lion are potentially on the cards as well. By donating to African Parks, you’ll help us realise this tremendously exciting vision.
Sign up to see how African Parks
is rewilding 2,000 rhinos