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Thu, 01/24/2013 - 11:01 -- abc_admin

Nigeria Okomu National Park

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

Nigeria Obudu Plateau

Image Credit: 
Tasso Leventis

White-headed Lapwing Vanellus albiceps. Nigeria International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Image Credit: 
Ian Nason

Okomu National Park is the largest block of lowland rainforest left in south-west Nigeria, approximately 60 km south-west of the city of Benin. It is one of the best locations in Nigeria to see all of the West African forest hornbills including good numbers of Black-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna atrata and Yellow-casqued Hornbill C.elata. Three species of spinetail can be seen from one of the tree platforms in the forest, Sabine’s Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini ,Cassin’s Spinetail Neafrapus cassini and the nationally rare Black Spinetail Telacanthura melanopygia. All four Negrofinches, White-breasted Nigrita fusconotus, Chestnut-breasted N.bicolor, Pale-fronted N. luteifrons and Grey-crowned N. canicapillus occur commonly. Also, it is only one of two sites in the country where Yellow-throated Cuckoo Chrysococcyx flavigularis has been recorded.

Obudu Plateau is situated in the south-east of the country in Cross river State close to the border with Cameroon. The plateau is a western extension of the Cameroon mountain range and contains 18 species of the Cameroon Montane EBA 2 of which Green-breasted Bush-Shrike Malacanotus gladiator and Bannerman’s Weaver Ploceus bannermani are vulnerable and White-throated Mountain Babbler Kupeornis gilberti is endangered. It is possible to see all of these species within the Becheve Reserve, a small protected area that has been established on the plateau to protect one of the largest patches of forest. In the foothills of the plateau on the edge of the Okwango section of the Cross River National Park, it is possible to see Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas easily at Bashu where a conservation project has been started to focus attention on this species.

The Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands to the north-east of Kano on the southern edge of the Sahel savanna is one of the most important wetland areas in West Africa for waterbirds, both for breeding species and for wintering and passage Palearctic migrants. Further to the east, there is another internationally important wetland site, Lake Chad, which has its westernmost shore in Nigeria. Large numbers of waterbirds can also be found here and the surrounding acacia woodlands are alive with Palearctic passerines during the dry season. At this time, the lake shore area has sizeable populations of birds of prey including significant numbers of Steppe Eagles Aquila nipalensis, Short-toed Snake Eagles Circaetus gallicus, Booted Eagles Hieraaetus pennatus and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. All 3 species of wintering Harrier, Pallid Circus macrourus, Montagu’s C.pygargus and Western Marsh C.aeruginosus are commonly encountered and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni is very common. Two new records for Nigeria have also been recorded from this area, Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca and Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. In addition to these migrants, 34 resident species of birds of prey have also been recorded.

The Amurum Woodlands, 15 km north-east of Jos, hold some of the best remaining patches of the typical Jos Plateau woodland which has been devastated elsewhere. In this area, 2 restricted range endemics, the Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis and its brood-parasite the Plateau Indigobird Vidua maryae can be found. The recently established A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute which is linked to both the Universities of Jos and St. Andrews is located here and is the focus of ornithological research programmes throughout Nigeria. The first 7 Nigerian masters students graduated from the Institute in 2004.

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan protects an important area of secondary forest within the confines of its 1,000 ha concession as well as a mix of wetlands and agricultural land. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded from this small area including the endemic Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis which is only found in the extreme south-west of Nigeria.

Sunvit Farm, a privately owned farm about 10 km south of Agenebode in Edo State protects an important area of Guinea savanna woodland as well as stretches of riparian woodland along a tributary of the River Niger. The flooded riparian woodland is probably the most reliable site in West Africa to see the Vermiculated Fishing-owl Scotopelia bouvieri as several pairs are known to breed here. Read the ABC feature article on the Fishing-owls of this area.

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