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Africa education Nature Nigeria

Yankari National Park

•Hippo Lake, Kainji National Park, Nigeria

West Africa is home to many nature reserves and Nigeria has a fair share. In-between those colourful coastal cities and hot towns of the Sahara, there are protected parks that are worth visiting. Yankari is one of them.

Yankari National Park is a large wildlife park located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in northeastern Nigeria. It covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres (866 sq mi) and is home to several natural warm water springs, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna. Its location in the heartland of the West African savanna makes it a unique way for tourists and holidaymakers to watch wildlife in its natural habitat. Yankari was originally created as a game reserve in 1956, but later designated Nigeria’s biggest national park in 1991. It is the most popular destination for tourists in Nigeria and, as such, plays a crucial role in the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is also one of the most popular eco-destinations in West Africa.

Yankari National Park is an important refuge for over 50 mammal species including African bush elephant, Olive baboon, Patas monkey, Tantalus monkey, roan antelope, western hartebeest, West African lion, African buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, leopards and hippopotamus.

There are also over 350 species of bird found in the park. These birds include the saddle-billed stork, guinea fowl, grey hornbill, and the cattle egret.

Yankari is recognized as having one of the largest populations of elephants in West Africa, estimated at more than 300 in 2005.

When you draw up your travel list, include this beautiful jewel in the heart of Nigeria’s savanna.

By Oke Iroegbu

Finance Graduate, Bibliophile and Bard of Ovim, his hometown. Read more at www.oiroegbu.com/about

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