Nigerian Wildlife: Animals Unique to Nigeria
Nigeria, a country in West Africa, is home to a few native animals from different classes of animals. Her terrain is characterized by lowland rain forests, coastal mangrove forest and grassy plateaus reaching up to 6000 ft. in elevation. It has less than 10% remaining rain forests, most of which are found in Cross-River state. It is therefore no wonder that the Cross-River rainforest retains biodiversity.
The following animals are unique to Nigeria:
There are primate communities in the Cross-River rainforest. They include;
- The Red-eared Guenon: This is a colourful monkey, with blue fur around its eyes, red nose and ears, and a red tail. The body is covered with banded brown and pale hairs. The animal is an omnivore eating both plants and invertebrates.
- Putty nose Guenon: The largest of the forest Guenons, the putty nose guenon has a white nose and chest, which contrasts against the black body and tail, which is usually spotted with green.
- Red capped Mangabeys: It is also called the white collared Mangabey due to the white band of fur on its neck. The rest colour on its head, gives it the name, ‘red capped’. The rest of the body is grey.
- Gorrillas of the Mbe Mountains: The Cross-River Gorilla is found in Nigeria, particularly in the Mbe Mountains of Cross-River. The Mbe Mountains houses 11 known gorilla communities.
- Olive Baboons (papio nubis): This animal is an endangered species found in the Gashka Gumti park, located in the eastern provinces of Taraba and Adamawa states.
- Golden Angwantibo: Also known as the golden potto, the nocturnal primate feeds on plants, fruits and invertebrates. It hops from tree to tress, spending all its day sleeping in thick foliage or in small tree crevices.
- Avian species.
Nigeria is home to a wide variety of species of birds, about 910 species of birds. They include but not limited to;
- Helmeted guinea fowl
- Common Ostrich
- White-faced whistling Duck.
- Common Quail
- Adamawa Turtle dove
- African green Pigeon
- Yellow throated Cuckoo
- Black-headed Gull
- White-headed vulture
- African hawk Eagle
- Anambra Waxbill.
The African bush Elephants and the forest Elephants are distinct from each other. The bush Elephants live in the savannah or deserts of the northern parts of Nigeria. While the forest Elephants live in rainforests of the South. However they are endangered due to high levels of poaching for their ivory and deforestation in the South. Once widespread across the country, now they have declined to about 50% and can be found in herds around Kwiambana Game Reserve and Kamuku National Park in northern Nigeria, Yankari Games Reserve (which has the largest herd of Elephants), forests of Ondo, Osun and Ogun states.
It is reported that only 34 of the big cats are still left in Nigeria, with about 30 living in the Kanji Lake national park, and less than five in the Yankari Games Reserve. It is sad to note that Lions can no longer be found in the wild.
Nigeria is home to several species of reptiles like lizards, snakes and Geckos. Reptiles that are native to Nigeria include;
- Carpet Viper: The most poisonous snake roaming the country’s Savannah. Found in woodlands and Savannah regions, the snake is behind 20,000 annual deaths from its venom.
- Black necked spitting Cobra
- Common Agama lizard
- Ondo forest Geckos: Has only been recorded in the Idanre Hills of Ondo state.
- Giant forest Gecko
- West African worm Lizard.
Other animals which are unique to Nigeria and West Africa includes;
- Antelopes: A source of animal proteins for some Nigerians, it is found in the Savannah and Grasslands of Nigeria.
- Squirrels: Another popular source of protein for Nigerians, especially those living in rural communities.
- Aardark: Have powerful claws which they used for digging up termites for food, and also for burrowing where they rest their head or give birth.
- African clawed Frogs: A ferocious amphibian used as a source of protein or as an aphrodisiac.
- Giant Rat
- The Nigerian toad.
The six endangered animal species in Nigeria include;
- West African Lions: Like I noted earlier, there are only 34 Lions left in Nigeria. If there will no Lions left in Nigeria.
- Cameroonian forest Shrew: These tiny rats are found in the Gotel Mountains and the plateaus of Adamawa state.
- Red Bellied Guenon: Once thought to be extinct, a small group however was found near the Niger River in 1988.
- Red eared Guenon: They are endangered due to illegal hunting and pet trade. However, they can found in the Cross-River rainforest.
- The Nigerian-Cameroonian Chimpanzee: This animal is severely threatened.