CROSS RIVER PARK, Nigeria’s biodiversity hotspot
Cross River national park is the largest tropical rain forest in Nigeria. Located in cross rivers state, south-south Nigeria and covering a total area of about 4,000 sq km, the cross river national park is home to about 80 per cent of primates in Nigeria.
An annual rainfall of over 3800mm from March to November and a relative short dry period confers on the cross river national park, the only evergreen rainforest in Africa.
Described as one of the 25 United Nations biodiversity hotspots in the world, the park is divided into two divisions: the Oban division and the Okwangwo division.
Oban hills division is a land of undulating topography and rugged terrain of about 2800 sq km, rising from a 100m in the river valley to over 900m in the hills.
The most amazing feature of the Oban hill is the amount of life it supports. About 1500 species of plants some of which includes the Anceistocladus korupensis and Prunus Africana which have high medicinal value for treating HIV/Aids and Prostrate cancer, about 340 species of birds and over 30 species of snakes inhabits the Oban hills.
Mammals are not left out as about 70 mammal species many which of which are endangered such as the African elephants, African buffalo and the drill are found in these hills.
Okwanwo division shares a border with the Takamanda forest reserve in Cameroon. The terrain of Okwangwo division is rugged covering an area of about 900 sq km.
It is made up of the former Boshi, Okwangwo and Boshi Extension Forest Reserves and is drained by the Oyi, Bemi and Okon rivers, tributaries of the Cross River.
The division has about 1,500 species of plants in 98 families. About 70% of primates reside in this part of the park, although illegal hunting and poaching has drastically reduced their numbers and endangered some.
Examples are the chimpanzee and western gorilla, Sclater’s guenon and the Preuss’s monkey whose population is greatly reduced.
The national park rangers were created to check the activities of poachers, but more needs to be done to sensitize locals on the significance of the park.
Also natives should be carried along in the running of the affairs of the park so that they share a sense of belonging and protect the park like their own
The park has a large focus on eco-tourism; visitors can take part in a wilderness experience, exploring the park on foot or by jeep. The park also offers a one week gorilla tracking excursion; the opportunity of a lifetime. The park is also the perfect place for hiking, boating, fishing and bird watching.
So are you a lover of wildlife and considering a vacation in Africa, consider the cross river national park.
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