Nigeria is home to some of Africa's most lush rainforests and are home to several endangered animal species. Over 90 per cent of the tropical rainforests that once covered Nigeria have been lost due to logging and clearance for farmland; of the remaining 10 per cent, half are in Cross River State, which is the only place that many of Nigeria's endangered animals are found. Biodiversity is low in the Cross-Niger transition forest, where fire, hunting and deforestation have reduced the forest habitat available to animals.
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Mammals endemic to Nigerian forests include the Sclater's and white-throated guenons and the Benin and crested genets. The endangered forest elephant, the drill monkey and the red-capped mangabey also live in Nigerian forests, along with chimpanzees and gorillas. Mammal species in the Cross-River transition forest have been depleted to the point that bats are now a part of Nigerian locals' diets. Most of the native mammals that still exist in Nigerian forests tend toward riverine forest environments, but are threatened there by hunting and logging.
Nigeria is home to more than 900 species of birds. Several unique bird species including the Jos Plateau indigo bird, the rock firefinch and the Ibadan malimbe live in Nigerian forests. The Anambra waxbill is near-endemic to the Cross-Niger transition forest. Some of the birds found in Nigeria's forests come from paleoarctic regions just to breed in the country. Sanctuaries and conservation foundations, including forest reserves, work to protect birds in Nigeria from threats such as habitat loss.
Reptile and Amphibians
Dunger's file snake, Cross's beaked snake and the Nigeria crag gecko are all endemic to Nigeria, as are a species of worm snake and a species of worm lizard. The crested chameleon, another endemic species, can be found in the Cross-Niger transition forest area. The Nigerian or Petter's toad and the Danko puddle frog are also endemic to Nigeria.
Threats to the animals of Nigeria's forests tend to be related to human activities. The human population in Nigeria is high and as a result a great deal of forest habitat has been cleared for farming and logging. Many Nigerian animals are hunted for food and can sell for as much as two weeks' worth of pay. Even game reserves are being progressively converted to farmland and tree plantations; the Gili-Gili Game Reserve has been so extensively deforested that it can no longer support populations of larger mammals.
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- Living National Treasures: Nigeria
- Centre for Education, Research & Conservation of Primates and Nature: Rainforests
- World Wildlife Fund: Terrestrial Ecoregions: Cross-Niger transition forests
- World Wildlife Fund: Terrestrial Ecoregions: Nigerian lowland forests
- HospitalityNigeria.com: Bird-Watching in Nigeria