National Parks

Algeria has 11 national parks in addition to a host of other protected areas that encompass a total of between 5% and 10% of the country's land area. That said, although the Algerian government's record in setting aside protected areas has improved in recent years, these are rarely

Sahara Conservation Fund (www.saharaconserva tion.org) is an excellent website detailing efforts underway to protect Saharan wildlife and the Saharan environment.

Africa & the Middle East: A continental overview of environmental issues, by Kevin Hillstrom, contains an excellent exploration of North Africa's environmental past and future, focusing on how human populations impact upon the environment.

national parks in the traditional sense - there are few park wardens, locals continue to live within most park boundaries and there are rarely official entry gates, all of which means you may end up visiting one of the parks without realising it.

Ahaggar National Park

The Ahaggar National Park (Pare National de l'Ahaggar) covers an astonishing 450,000 sq km, making it one the largest protected areas in the world. Created in 1987, the park runs from In Salah to the Mali and Niger borders and encompasses the Hoggar Mountains (pi88) and the Tassili d'Immidir (pl82). There's an information office (ยงยง 029734117; pldu ler Novembre) in Tamanrasset.

Tassili N'Ajjer National Park

Covering 80,000 sq km, the Tassili N'Ajjer National Park (Pare National de Tassili N'Ajjer; (pl94) is Algeria's other major park and arguably the most effectively run. The Office National du Pare Tassili in Djanet controls entry to the park, with a DA100 entry fee per person.

In addition to the rock art for which the park is famous, the park was set up to protect 28 endangered plant species such as Mediterranean olive, Saharan myrde and tarout cypress, as well as threatened animal species such as the Barbary sheep, sand cat, cheetah and dorcas gazelle. The Tassili N'Ajjer National Park is also an important waystation for migrating bird species, while up to 10,000 people, mosdy nomadic Tuareg, live within the park's confines.

Other National Parks

Two of the most important national parks in Algeria are located in the country's northeast, although facilities for travellers are practically nonexistent.

Taza National Park (Pare National de Taza), which was set aside in 2004, is situated on the Mediterranean Coast in the Kabylie region and its stunning cliffs and precipitous valleys (the landscape soars from sea level to over 1100m) are home to the endangered Barbary ape and the Kabylie nuthatch, as well as the largest stands of gall oak and cork oak in Algeria. The region is especially popular for raptor bird species.

Also of significance is the El-Kala National Park (Pare National d'El-Kala), which is hard-up alongside the Algerian-Tunisian border, close to Annaba. The park is home to two of Algeria's 26 entries on the Ramsar List of Wedands of International Importance. An important stopover for migrating birds on their trans-Saharan odyssey, these wedands play host to rare waterfowl such as the tufted duck, white-headed duck, Ferruginous duck and purple gallinule.

In addition to these parks, there is one further coastal park (Gour-aya National Park), five parks covering mountain regions (Theniet el-Had National Park, Djurdjura National Park, Chrea National Park, Belezma National Park and Tlemcen National Park) and one national park on the High Plateaus (Djebel Aissa National Park).

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