Gashaka-Gumti National Park (GGNP) is located at the heart of the mountainous region of North-east Nigeria precisely at the eastern provinces of Taraba and Adamawa to the international border with Cameroon and immediately to the North of the Mambilla plateau. It stands as a testament to the Nigerian’s rich biodiversity and natural wonders. Covering an expansive area of approximately 6,402 square kilometers, this national park proclaimed from two game reserves in 1991 is the largest in Nigeria and one of the largest in West Africa. Home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, Gashaka Gumti National Park offers an unparalleled opportunity for nature lovers and adventure seekers to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of the Nigerian wilderness. Savannah grassland makes up the majority of the north of GGNP, whereas montane forests and steep, mountainous cliffs can be found in the south of the park, along with deep valleys and gorges.
Gashaka Gumti National Park is a haven for those seeking an authentic and immersive experience in nature. The park’s landscape is characterized by lush rainforests, sweeping savannahs, and rugged mountain terrains, providing a diverse and picturesque backdrop for visitors. The park’s convergence of the Taraba and Adamawa states results in a distinctive combination of ecosystems that are home to a staggering array of wildlife. The footpaths winding across the forested mountains towards Cameroon are few. The distant area does not currently have any established roads. The highest peak in Nigeria, Chappal Waddi, is located in the southern portions of the park at 2,415 metres in elevation, while the northern, flatter portion of the park is just 455 metres high. This rough landscape is made up of rivers that run quickly, steep slopes covered with dense forest, deep valleys, and sheer cliffs. It is a significant region that the Benue River receives water from. Even in the dry season, there is a plentiful supply of water in the rivers. Within the park perimeter are enclaves inhabited by local Fulani pastoralists, who use them for farming and grazing.
The name Gashaka-Gumti was originated from two of the region’s oldest and most historic colonies: Gashaka village in Taraba State, and Gumti village in Adamawa State. The abundant biodiversity of the Gashaka Gumti region was severely strained due to widespread poaching. In 1966 the Northern Nigerian government constituted a team to investigate the Gashaka Gumti forest and its watersheds and commissioned a land systems survey in response to the clear growing threat. The research findings underscored the pressing necessity of safeguarding the watersheds of the forested mountains that fed the River Taraba. A 1969 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) wildlife expert suggested creating a national park or game reserve to protect the area’s wildlife riches. Following its recent independence, Nigeria gave priority to managing its natural resources during the time these reports were published, contributing large sums of money to conservation efforts. Three game sanctuaries—Gashaka, Gumti, and Serti—were established in 1972 by the Government of the North-East State in cooperation with local administrations and traditional chiefs of the Ganye and Gashaka divisions. A significant step towards conservation was the prohibition of hunting within these sanctuaries.
Due to poor management, Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria saw a tragedy in 1983–1984, when a pan-African cow disease outbreak resulted in the extinction of hoofed species and a sharp increase in poaching. The Department of International Development (DFID) gave the park a lifeline in the late 1980s by providing funding for important initiatives. In addition, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) made a strong case to the Federal Government for Gashaka Gumti’s designation as a national park, citing the preservation of watersheds and the advancement of ecotourism as two of its main points. The 1991 merger of Gumti Game Reserve and Gashaka Game Reserve resulted in the official creation of Gashaka-Gumti National Park through new legislation. The Wildlife Unit of the then-Gongola State Government collaborated with the NCF to oversee it. Addressing several conservation concerns was the project’s goal.
Ecological Community of Plants and Animals in the Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria
The national park has an extremely varied wildlife. Mammal species have been documented at many censuses. Within the borders of the national park are situated the largest population of chimpanzees in Nigeria, as well as species like as the African buffalo, African golden cat, and yellow-backed duiker. African elephants, klipspringers, West African wild dogs, hartebeests, the largest antelope in the world, huge eland, roan antelopes, kob antelopes, oribis, and the endangered Adamawa mountain reedbuck in bigger populations are among the other animals that call the national park home. In addition, there are gigantic forest hogs, golden cats, and chimpanzees. The park is also home to predatory creatures such wild dogs, leopard (panther pardus), and lions (Panthera leo). There are a huge variety and abundance of birds in the avian fauna. The park is recognised as one of Africa’s “Important Bird Areas” and is home to over 500 different species. The list steadily grows as ardent bird observers add new species to it. The two parks where red-faced lovebirds can be found are Bamingui-Bangoran National Park and Biosphere Reserve in the Central African Republic and Gashaka-Gumti National Park.
The Leinde Fadale forest is home to an isolated population of the red sunbird bush, an elaborate member of the acanthus family. There has been a suggestion to expand the park boundary in order to safeguard the forest. There are many different kinds of trees in the park, and they flourish in different areas of the park for different reasons. Tall trees including Acacia spp., Afzelia Africana, and Khaya Seneglensis can be found in the Northen Gumti sector. The vegetation of the Gashaka, the southernmost portion of the park, is closely comparable to that of the Southern Guinea Savanna. Symphonia globulifera, Mallettia spp., Aubrvillea kerstingii Africana, and Triplochyton schleroxylon are the predominant tree species in the region. The opportunity to see a variety of wildlife species in their natural habitat is one of the highlights of Gashaka Gumti National Park. The park is home to both common and unusual animals, including chimpanzees, African elephants, and elusive leopards. Birdwatchers will also be delighted by the park’s avian residents, including the vibrant Gashaka turaco and the dazzling Adamawa turtle dove.
Climate of Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria
The year-round low levels of precipitation define the climate in the park. Because of its closeness to the equator, it is difficult to distinguish between the seasons. It is recommended that prospective visitors get advice from the local authorities before making travel plans, since this will enable them to determine the most suitable months for their trip. The temperature is roughly 26.4 ᴼC on a yearly average. A 7.5 ᴼC temperature difference is observed in a year, with January recording the lowest temperature of around 16.0 ᴼC and April recording the highest temperature of approximately 39 ᴼC. The Park records 674 millimetres of yearly precipitation. There is also evidence of a 200mm variation in rainfall between the rainy and dry seasons, which occur in August and January, respectively. The monthly average for relative humidity is 85%, with August having the highest value and March having the lowest at 14%. In addition, August has the most rainy days (15) in comparison to January, which has hardly none. This suggests that August will be a very wet month. The amount of sunshine at Gashaka Gumti National Park varies every day of the year. With an average of 10.95 hours per day, April gets the most sunshine, while January has the fewest, with 10.50 hours.
Cultural Richness of Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria
Gashaka Gumti National Park Nigeria is not only a natural wonder but also a place of cultural significance. The park is home to several indigenous communities, and visitors have the opportunity to engage with local traditions and customs. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of the Mambilla Plateau, and witness the harmonious coexistence of nature and heritage. Gashaka Gumti National Park boasts of rich tapestry of ecotourism resources, making it a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts.
Conservation and Sustainability
As a protected area, Gashaka Gumti National Park plays a crucial role in conservation efforts in Nigeria. The park is dedicated to preserving the delicate balance of its ecosystems and protecting endangered species. Visitors are encouraged to adhere to responsible tourism practices, ensuring that this natural treasure can be enjoyed by generations to come.
After 2012, there was a noticeable drop in number of visitors to the park. This decline is linked to security risks in the country’s northeast, which are mostly brought on by insurgent activity and disputes between local crop producers and cattle ranchers. Even with this decrease, the park nevertheless draws visitors from throughout the world, with a sizable percentage of them being British academics. Naturalists find Gashaka Gumti National Park to be an enthralling location due to its abundance of ecotourism opportunities.
Some of the major attractive sites in the Park are:
Collection of hippopotamus in a pool of water otherwise called Hippo Pool; here you will see hippo in their natural environment.
Magnificent Museum: There are a lot natural historic artefacts such as fishing gear and hunting equipment.
Locations for observing a variety of other animals and birds, including over 500 species of birds and primates like chimpanzees and baboons.
Other interesting and attractive features include:
The Mayo Kam River (largest river in the park swarming with fish and wildlife during the dry season), Kiri Waterfall (with incomparable natural beauty), enticing highlands and ranges for mountaineering and cave exploration, Sport Fishing (Ideal spots for fishing in the Mayo Kam River during the dry season), Outdoor Camping and Natural hot springs.
The administration of the park has worked to improve visitor experiences by offering amenities including lodging (well furnished), conference rooms, bars, enough parking space and viewing cars. GGNP strives as much as it can to accommodate a range of tastes by offering a selection of lodging choices, such as suites, premium rooms, and VIP accommodations. To help tourists discover its charms, the park also employs knowledgeable and respectful guides. The security within and outside the park is superb. Their security team are always on the alert. For the adventurous at heart, Gashaka Gumti National Park offers a network of hiking trails that wind through its diverse landscapes. The Chappal Waddi Mountain, the highest peak in Nigeria, presents a challenging yet rewarding climb for trekking enthusiasts. As you ascend, the panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and forests unfold, creating an experience that will stay etched in your memory.
Hostility in the Park
The illicit logging activities have been a major source of challenges and disputes for Gashaka Gumti National Park. These confrontations have claimed the lives of park Rangers and presented a major risk to the area’s conservation efforts. A 2019 report claims that illegal loggers are to blame for the deaths of a few Rangers and the injury of several more during the previous few years. Additionally, occasionally the ugly head of human-animal conflict in Gashaka Gumti National Park rears its head. Human-animal conflict is rife in any community where people and animals coexist or where boundaries between human settlement and conservation areas are shared. The communities surrounding the Gashaka Gumti Park face the same conflict. The local area around the park is home to roughly twenty-five settlements. The main cause of the disputes is the growing need for illicit Rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceous), also referred to as Madrid, logging. In the Gashaka Local Government Area (LGA) and the surrounding national park, the economic significance and abundance of this species were found between 2014 and 2015, posing a major security risk to park employees. Park administrators and Rangers have been up at night trying to keep the forest resources safe from desperate loggers ever since Rosewood was discovered in the area.
Gashaka Gumti National Park is a gem in the heart of Taraba State, inviting all who visit to witness the unspoiled beauty of Nigeria’s wilderness. For those that seek thrilling adventures, wildlife encounters, or a deeper connection with nature and culture, this national park has something to offer every explorer. Plan your visit and embark on a journey through the untamed landscapes of Gashaka Gumti National Park – a true testament to the natural wonders of Nigeria.