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Gashaka Gumti National Park

Taraba & Adamawa States Gashaka Gumti National Park, Taraba, Nigeria

Gashaka-Gumti National Park (GGNP) is a national park in Nigeria, It was gazetted from two game reserves in 1991 and is Nigeria’s largest national park. It is located in the eastern provinces of Taraba and Adamawa to the border with Cameroon. The total area covers about 6,402 km2, much of the northern GGNP is savannah grassland, while the southern GGNP sector of the park has a rugged terrain characterized by very mountainous, steep slopes as well as deep valleys and gorges, and is home to montane forests. Altitude ranges from ranging from about 457 metres (1,499 ft) in the northern flatter corner of the park, up to 2,419 metres (7,936 ft) at Chappal Waddi, Nigeria’s highest mountain in the park’s southern sections. It is an important water catchment area for the Benue River. There is abundant river flow even during the markedly dry season.[1] Enclaves for local Fulani pastoralists exist within the park boundary that allow for farming and grazing.[2]

Gashaka-Gumti National Park is located in the mountainous region of north-eastern Nigeria adjacent to the international border with Cameroon, and immediately to the north of Mambilla Plateau. The largest and most scenic of all the seven National Parks, this conservation area lies between latitude 6o 55’ and 8o 05’ north, and longitude 11o11’ and 12o13’ east and covers a total area of 6,731 sq.km. Located in Adamawa and Taraba States, the Park is contiguous with Faro and Tchabal Mbado National Parks in the Republic of Cameroon.

The Park experiences varying pleasant weather conditions, depending on one’s location within the Park. These range from tropical dry humid, tropical moist humid in the lowlands to sub tropical highland weather on the high plateau around Chappal waddi, Sabere and Fillinga. Infact , the hidden corner of West Africa ,that is Gashaka-Gumti National Park, is surely one of Africa’s best kept secret.

ANTROPOGENIC FEATURES:

The Park also contains some historic sites one of which is the pre 1918 German fort and garrison top of Gashaka Hill once used as a “ watch tower ” by the German military expedition to that area. Graves of some fallen German soldiers could still be seen dotted around the Fort. Similarly, there is an English fort near Gashaka village built by the British Frontier Force who overthrew the Germans to gain the Mambilla pass(a narrow corridor that gave access into Cameroon through the Mambilla Plateau in those days)

THE GASHAKA PRIMATE PROJECT:

The Gashaka Primate Project was founded in 2000 by the Department of Anthropology, University College London. The Project aims to understand the interactions between Primates and their natural environment and its effect on evolution, while at the same time contributing to the conservation of one of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots.
Activities of the project include: Park protection, Park boundary demarcation and patrol, eco-tourism development, community outreach , biological research and development of the Park infrastructure.

ACCESS TO THE PARK:

Gashaka sector of the park can be accessed through Katsina Ala-Takum-Bali-Serti –Bodel Gate and the other from Jalingo-Mutum Biyu-Bali-Serti-Bodel Gate, while the main access to Gumti sector is from Yola-Mayo Belwa-Ganye-Sugu-Toungo. The closest airport is at Yola. However, there is an airstrip for light aircraft in Serti, which could be used by visitors.

Fauna

The fauna of the national park is very diverse. 103 species of mammals have been recorded at censuses. Species include yellow-backed duiker, African golden cat (Profelis aurata), The African buffalo, the largest population in Nigeria of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is found within the boundaries of the national park. To protect the animals and the ecosystem, the Gashaka Primate Project was launched. Living in the national park are also the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), the klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus), the West African wild dog (Lycaon pictus manguensis), the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), the world’s largest antelope, the giant eland (Taurotragus Derbianus), the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus), the kob antelope (Kobus kob), the oribi (Ourebia ourebi), and the rare Adamawa mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) in larger stocks.

The avian fauna is very rich and diverse, there are stocks are up 1 million birds estimated. The park is officially labelled as one of Africa’s “Important Bird Areas” – and with more than 500 species found, and visiting bird watching enthusiasts are constantly adding new species to the list. The red faced lovebird is only found here and in the Central African Republic’s Bamingui-Bangoran National Park and Biosphere Reserve .[3]

Flora

In November 2002 an isolated population of the red sunbird bush, an ornate species of the acanthus family,[4] was discovered in the 8 km2 Leinde Fadale forest in the uplands adjacent to the park.[5] The species occurs here at 1,600 to 1,670 m.a.s.l., and some 1,200 km from the nearest populations in the Afromontane archipelago. It has been suggested that the park boundary should be extended to protect the forest.[5]

ashaka-Gumti National Park is located in a mountainous region of North-east Nigeria adjacent to the international border with Cameroon, and immediately to the North of the Mambilla plateau. No roads cross this remote region and only a few lonely footpaths wind through the forested mountains towards Cameroon. Visitors to the park are able to enjoy lush forests, wide sweeping grasslands, cool highland plateaus, rugged moody mountains, abundant wildlife, and fascinating ethnic cultures, all combined within a single protected area.

There are few other places in the world that contain such spectacular scenery and such diverse wildlife. The hidden corner of west Africa that is Gashaka-Gumti National Park is surely one of the continent’s best kept secrets.

Gashaka-Gumti National Park, the largest park in Nigeria, covers 6,731 sq km of wilderness. The park’s name is derived from two of the region’s oldest and most historic settlements: Gashaka village in Taraba State, and Gumti village in Adamawa State. Gashaka-Gumti National Park was created by Federal Decree in 1991 by the merging of Gashaka Game Reserve with Gumti Game Reserve. In this guidebook we will use the term Gashaka sector to indicate the Southern half of the park, and the term Gumti sector to indicate the Northern half.

The Northern, Gumti sector of the park is relatively flat and covered with woodlands and grasslands, whilst the Southern, Gashaka sector is more mountainous and contains vast expanses of rainforest as well as areas of woodlands and montane grassland. This rugged terrain is characterised by steep, thickly forested slopes, deep plunging valleys, precipitous escarpments and swiftly flowing rivers. Altitude ranges from 450 metres above sea level in the wild savannah plains of the Northern sector, to the peaks and pinnacles of Gangirwal in the Southern park sector, which at a staggering 2,400 metres above sea level, represents Nigeria’s highest mountain.

It is the sheer variety of different habitats within Gashaka-Gumti National Park that makes the area so uniquely rich in wildlife. In fact the park is actually an intricate mosaic of montane grasslands, savannah woodlands, swamps, lakes, mighty rivers, dark lowland rainforests, and luxuriant, montane rainforests strewn with ferns and orchids. Each habitat supports its own distinctive community of plants and animals.

Rainforests provide a haven for animals such as the Giant forest hog, leopard, Yellow-backed duiker, Golden cat, and many different primate species including chimpanzees. Woodland savannahs are home to buffalo, lion, elephant, and Wild dog, as well as various antelopes such as waterbuck, Roan antelope, kob, hartebeest and the world’s largest antelope, the Giant eland. The mountains of the park harbour populations of the rare Adamawa mountain reedbuck, in addition to Black-and-white colobus monkey, baboon, warthog, oribi, and klipspringer. Whilst its largest unspoilt rivers contain hippos, crocodiles, otters and a wide variety of fishes. The park is officially labelled as one of Africa’s “Important Bird Areas” – and with more than 500 species found here, this is certainly no exaggeration. Visiting bird watchers constantly add new species to the list. An additional abundance of creatures such as butterflies, flowers and trees, makes this park a naturalists’ paradise, unrivalled anywhere for diversity.

References; Wikipedia, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/gashaka/park/, nigeriaparkservice.org/?p=144

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Gashaka Gumti National Park, Taraba, Nigeria

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