Welcome to the Galapagos of África!
Islands are special places for naturalists. Their isolation allows unique species to evolve, often including 'strange' creatures that are adapted to island life. These peculiarities contributed significantly to Darwin and Wallace's understanding of evolution, inspired by the Galapagos and the islands of South-East Asia respectively. São Tomé and Príncipe, two small islands 200 kilometers off the coast of Gabon, are equally fascinating. The biota of these former colonies is so distinct that their forests constitute an independent eco-region. Birds are the most visible component of the unique species composition and are recognized the important ambassadors for the conservation of the remaining forest, appearing on the island nation's coat of arms, stamps and currency.
Relative to their size, São Tomé and Príncipe are the islands with the largest number of endemic birds globally, with 17 species confined to São Tomé (857 square kilometers in extent), eight restricted to Prince (139 square kilometers) and three shared between the two By comparison, the Galapagos islands have 22 endemics in the land area almost 10 times greater. Only the Hawaiian islands, 20 times larger, support more endemic birds (30 extant species, plus 19 extinctions in historical times). The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest country in Africa (after the Seychelles), yet ranks fourth in terms of the number of endemic birds. It is not surprising that each island is recognized as a separate Endemic Bird Area by BirdLife International.
In Africa Birds and Birding