Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Gashaka Gumti National Park


Gashaka Gumti national park is located in Taraba state north eastern Nigeria close to Cameroon border north of Mambilla plateaus. The park covers 6,731 sq km wilderness, it derives its name from two of the region's oldest and most historic settlements: Gashaka village in Taraba State, and Gumti village in Adamawa State.  The park is among the seven national parks in Nigeria and also the most scenic and biological diverse conservation enclave; it compasses savannah, forests, wetlands, and montane habitats in a continuous ecological transition.
The park is a potential extension of wildlife enclosed system moving in a north east direction to faro, Benue and Boubandjida National parks in Cameroon. The terrain is characterized by steep, thickly forested slopes, deep plunging valleys, precipitous escarpments and swiftly flowing rivers. Altitude ranges from 450 meters 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 meters above sea level, represents Nigeria's highest mountain.
                      
The park has a variety of different habitats that makes it uniquely rich in wildlife. In fact it 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.
Gashaka Gumti National park is the home of highest mountain chappal waddii which is also known as “Mountain of Death” located southern sector of the park locally called Gangirwal which requires eight to ten days trek to appreciate it. The park also has Chappal Hendu the “Mountain of wind”; it also has rivers that flow through it including River Taraba, River Benue and River Kam which makes the park an excellent place for fishing.
The fauna in the park includes Lions, mountain reedbuck, roan antelope, hippopotamus, crocodiles, chimpanzees, baboons, hyenas, elephants, rhinoceros, African manate, putty nosed guenon, panta monkeys, aardvark, porcupine, wild dog, Senegal bush baby, grey cheeked mangabey, tantalus monkey, giant forest hog, warthog, cheetah, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, kob, bush pig, hartebeest, silky black and white colobus monkeys, white face mona monkey, civet, genet, golden cat leopard, red river hog duiker, oribi, klipsringer, yellow- backed duiker, giant eland etc.
                        
                        
The park also features over 500 bird species, 50 different fish species, primate watching, and sport fishing. This area is best explored on foot with accompanied guide. The best time to visit the park is during December to April because of weather condition then from late July to November accessibility to park is quite difficult because the rivers, streams overgrown vegetation and marshy areas has flooded. The greater part of the park is inaccessible to vehicles due to undulating, difficult and rugged terrain as well as thick vegetation and crisscrossing rivers and streams.
The park is officially labeled one of the Africa’s “Important Bird Areas” it also contains some historic sites which is one of the pre 1918 German fort on top of Gashaka hill which is known as “watch tower” used by the German military expedition to the area. Some graves of German soldiers are still found dotted at the fort of the hill.

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