Gashaka Biodiversity Project
Gashaka Gumti National Park (GGNP) in Nigeria is a nationally and regionally important site for biodiversity. Spanning almost 7000km2, this extraordinary wildnerness is home to a vast array of wildlife, much of which is all but lost from the rest of West Africa.
The park is located in south western Nigeria and is the country’s largest national park, a rugged largely unexplored wilderness covering 6700 km2.
With wide altitudinal variation (300-2500m) and complex topography the GGNP represents a unique and intricate mosaic of habitats including savannah woodland, grasslands, montane and lowland rainforest types. These diverse habitats each support their own distinctive communities of fauna and flora.
Key species include the Endangered Nigeria-Cameroon (Elliot's) chimpanzee, leopard, the Adamawa mountain reedbuck, hippopotamus, several species of duiker, pangolins, red river and giant forest hogs and large antelope including bushbuck, waterbuck, kob and hartebeest. The northern sector of the park may also support remnant populations of painted dog and the world’s largest antelope the Giant Eland. The park is also recognised as one of Africa's Important Bird Areas - with more than 500 species identified so far.
Having provided support for conservation of the GGNP since 1994, Chester Zoo established The Gashaka Biodiversity Project in 2014 with an initial focus on the population monitoring and conservation of the park’s globally important chimpanzee population.
In partnership with the Nigerian National Park Service, our field team conducts regular chimpanzee population monitoring out of the Kwano research centre, collecting data on group size and composition, diet, day journey lengths and nesting behaviours. In addition the team collect data on the presence of human disturbance, maintain a database of ecological data and a trail camera network to monitor elusive species such as the golden cat and leopard.
In the below video Dr Umar Buba, project manager of our Gashaka Biodiversity Project, tells us more about these animals and why they are under threat of extinction.
The Gashaka Biodiversity Project is also dedicated to building local capacity for conservation, providing training for park rangers in biomonitoring, study opportunities and bursaries for Nigerian students and developing community outreach and ecosystem health awareness programs to encourage participatory management of this incredible park.