The Niger River region extends across nine countries in West Africa. The river itself flows through five of those countries -- Niger, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria and Benin. Originally called "egerou-n-igerou," or "river of rivers," the Niger provides sustenance for many African people, as well as animals and plants. The flora and fauna of the Niger River region adapts to the climate of the area, which includes floodplains and wetlands. Many of the animals in this region can be found nowhere else on earth.
The African lion, Panthera Leo, was once found more commonly throughout the African continent. However, because of hunting, loss of habitat and other factors, the range of the lion in its natural environment has dwindled. Lions can be found in central and southern Africa, as well as throughout the Niger River delta. The Defenders of Wildlife website notes that lion males reach a height of four feet and length of five to eight feet. The males can weigh up to five hundred pounds. Female lions are usually smaller than males. In addition, they lack a mane. Lions reproduce throughout the year, resulting in litters of three to four cubs at a time.
Old world monkeys are monkeys which have tails, but the tails are not prehensile. One such monkey is the Preuss's monkey. This monkey, scientific name Cercopithecus preussi, lives within eastern Nigeria, western Cameroon and Bioko, according to Animal Corner. This monkey faces extinction because of habitat loss and hunting. Preuss's monkeys are usually dark coloured with white hair along their chins. The females give birth to one offspring at a time approximately every three years. They have been known to live for just over 30 years.
West African Manatee
Like many species within Africa, the West African manatee, Trichechus senegalensis, faces extinction due to poaching, habitat loss and environmental interference. This species of manatee lives within marine coasts and fresh water river systems, including the Niger. The West African manatee reaches nearly 15 feet in length and can weigh up to 358 Kilogram. These large animals eat mainly vegetation that hangs down over its habitat, as opposed to vegetation submerged within the water. There are no known manatee breeding seasons, according to Animal Corner, but scientists think this species can breed throughout the year, as is the case with other manatees.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that hippo grass, Vossia cuspidata, grows all throughout tropical Africa and southeast Asia. This grass is suited to handle the flooded conditions of Niger River flood plains. The grass clumps together to create semi-floating mats of grass. The grass grows along river banks and lake shores; occasionally, it will grow over water as well. The grass reaches about 9 inches long at full length. Animals such as cattle feed on the grass.
Mangrove trees are an important part of the economy and the natural environment in the Niger River region. Mangroves provide food and shelter for numerous animals and fish along the riverfront. Fish use the mangrove tree roots as breeding grounds. World Rainforest Movement notes that most of Africa's mangrove forests are within Nigeria; all eight species of mangroves present in Africa are within Nigeria.
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