From the air, the island of Príncipe is a vivid green, with lush volcanic slopes falling precipitously into the sea and sandy beaches dotted along its coastline. Part of the archipelago of São Tomé & Príncipe, the island is located just above the equator off the west coast of Africa and is home to many species that are found nowhere else on Earth.
Despite being Africa’s second-smallest nation, the country is a treasure trove of biodiversity with a surprising number of endemic bird, amphibian and reptile species. Príncipe’s forests are among the most biodiverse in Africa and are comparable to other oceanic islands such as the Galapagos in terms of the number of endemic species (those found nowhere else on Earth).
Príncipe’s coastal waters, meanwhile, fall within the Gulf of Guinea marine biodiversity hotspot and support high numbers of coral reef fish and mollusc species that are unique to the area, as well as providing important breeding grounds for hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles.
Sadly, all this is threatened by human activities. Nearly all of the country’s lowland forest has already been disturbed or altered, while its unique coastal waters are under threat from overfishing and other damaging fishing practices.