Nigeria is a tropical country with a total land area of about 932,768 km2, and a coastline of 960km along the Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of about 140 million people, with the largest number of the black race on earth, have 250 ethnic groups and 400 distinct languages, with Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo as the dominant groups. Abuja is the Federal Capital City, while Lagos remains as the Economic Capital. English is the official language. Nigeria was once colonized by Britain, but gained her independence on 1st October, 1960.
Nigeria is blessed with rich and unique array of ecosystems, and a great variety of wild fauna and flora. This rich natural endowment is a product of the climatic variations resulting into various north-south gradations of habitats and ecosystems. The habitats support more than 1,340 species of animals among which is 274 mammalian species, making it the 8th highest in Africa.
From biological inventories, about 885 species of birds, over 109 species of amphibians and 135 species of reptiles have so far been identified. There are about 900 species of which 60 species are within the wetlands and freshwater ecosystems in Nigeria. The threats currently being posed are habitats loss, which is a major problem the National Park Service.
Overview of Nigeria National Parks
Climate is the major influence on the vegetation found in the National Parks. The climate in Northern Nigeria differs from that in the South. In the North, there is distinct hot and dry seasons; temperature can reach up to 45oC between the months of March and May. Some parts of Chad Basin National Park, for example receive only about 400mm of rainfall or even less, positioning it in the sahel zone. There is one long rainy season from late May to September of every year.
Southward, rainfall gradually increases and vegetation becomes lush. Thorny scrubs give way to Savanna grassland. Thus part of Gashaka-Gumti, Kainji Lake and Old Oyo National Parks fall largely within the Guinea Savanna Zone.
Towards the coast, temperatures averages 5oC to 10oC (or less). Here the rains fall mostly heavily between April and July, peaking in July and September. Rainfall in Cross River and Okomu National Parks, for instance can exceed 400mm, and supports the growth of tropical rainforest.