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Gashaka Gumti National Park | ©
Gashaka Gumti National Park | ©
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National Parks in Nigeria You Shouldn’t Miss

Picture of Ayodele Olofintuade
Updated: 25 August 2017
As diverse as her people are, so is Nigeria‘s geographical location. With a landmass spanning over 923,768 square kilometres (356,669 square miles) the country is wide and varied. Within it are tropical rain forests, highlands, islands and deserts, each one rich with diverse flora and fauna. Here are the national parks and nature reserves that have been carved out of Nigeria’s various regions, all of them a delight to the senses.

Old Oyo National Park

Straddling northern Oyo and Kwara is the Old Oyo National Park, with a total land mass of 2512 square kilometres (970 square miles). With its abundant expansion, the park not only has a diverse range of wildlife – which includes elephants, buffaloes and a wide variety of birds – it also has a rich cultural and historical background emanating from the Old Oyo Empire. Hotels in Ibadan near the park include the Carlton Gate Hotel, the Owu Crown Hotel, and the SDM Tavern Hotel.

A family of elephants
A family of elephants | ©
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Kainji Lake National Park

Kainji Lake National Park, located between the states of Niger and Kwara, was established in 1976 and has an inselberg landscape with wide plains in between. Some of the rivers within the park include Oli Menei, Doro and Manyara. Some of the animals to be found here are monkeys, lions, pythons, the Nile crocodile, leopards, and hyenas. It also has a wide variety of birds that are a delight for ornithologists and bird watchers.

Hippo Lake at Kainji National Park | © Jeremy Weate/WikiCommons

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Gashaka Gumti National Park

Located between Taraba and Adamawa States, Gashaka Gumti National Park is one of the most scenic places in Nigeria. It is a sanctuary for wild animals, like the red river hog, yellow backed duiker and the golden cat, while there are also rare animals like the Adamawa mountain reedbuck, the putty-nosed monkey, and the mona monkey. The rivers contain a wide range of fish, as well as hippos and crocodiles.

The yellow-backed duiker | © KCZooFan/WikiCommons

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The Cross River National Park

The merging of four game reserves resulted in the Cross River National Park, described by UNESCO in 1979 as the most amazing place in the world. Aside from a wide range of flora unique to the rainforest, it is also home to a great amount of fauna, some of which are protected species. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

A Cross River gorilla | © Julielangford/WikiCommons

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Yankari National Park

The largest and most popular park in Nigeria, Yankari National Park is not only rich in plants and wildlife, it is also home to protected species of animals and birds. It contains one of the largest elephant herds in Africa, estimated at 350 individuals, and populations of lion, buffalo, hippo, roan and hartebeest.

Red hartebeest | © Bernard Dupont/WikiCommons

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The Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve

The Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve contains a stand of rare dry montane land, and is home to a population of the rare and endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee. Other primates that can be found in the park are the putty-nosed monkey, the mona monkey, and tantalus monkey. It has been classified as an Important Bird ad Biodiversity Area by BirdLife International and is home to 158 bird species.