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Historical Sites: National park of wonders

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Historical Sites: National park of wonders

According to the conservator of the Gashaka-Gumti national park, Saidu Yohana, fauna of the park is very diverse and contains about 103 species of mammals. Species include yellow-backed duiker, African golden cat, African buffalo, the largest population of chimpanzees in Nigeria, and there are over1700 chimpanzees in the park, African elephant, klipspringer, West African wild dog, hartebeest, the world’s largest antelope, the giant eland, Roan antelope, Kob antelope, oribi, Black-and-white colobus monkey, baboon, warthog, and the rare mountain reedbuck. Its largest unspoilt rivers contain hippos, crocodiles, otters and a wide variety of fishes.

 

He explained that the avian fauna is very rich with about a million birds. The park is officially labelled as one of Africa’s “Important Bird Areas” – and with more than 500 species found, visiting bird watching enthusiasts are constantly adding new species to the list.

The conservator said that the mandate of the parks is to protect and manage the major catchment of the upper Benue River system that originates from the park. “We have the mandate to protect the high biodiversity of species of fauna and flora of the area, some of which are endangered or at the verge of extinction,” he said. There were a number of waterfalls in the park with falling water all the year round and that has added more attraction to visitors. Some of the waterfalls inside the park include Kiri waterfalls, Yoma waterfall located on Karlai hills, Mayo Ngaska waterfalls and Ngiti waterfalls. The water falls it was gathered ,apart from being site attractions has the potential to generate electricity, but yet the entire park relies on generating plants for its power supply.

He said visitors were charged N7500 per day, N7000 for a room ,while N1500 was for transport and camera tours into the park. According to him, the charge was the lowest in any park in the country, adding that there was the need for holiday seekers to patronise the park, because it has all the potentials needed by tourists. He said that 32 chalets were built to accommodate tourists and most of chalets were built at tourists camp located inside SERTI town, while few other chalets were provided inside the main park.

“Local tourists need not to travel abroad as here in Gashaka – Gumti park, there is what it takes to give pleasure to persons that want to see wild life of any type, as well as the beautiful scenery” he said . Unfortunately, the Gashaka local government area where the park is located is yet to be connected to the national grid ,hence the park relies on generating plants for power supply, according to the conservator. “The cost of diesel has forced the management of the park to provide electricity for a few hours in the day, and such supply is normally between 6.30pm to 11.30pm ,but however water supply in the tourist’s camp went for 24 hours and without interruption,” he said.

However, the conservator said the park needs urgent attention from the federal government ,as some of the facilities needed to be upgraded. According to him, electricity supply was highly needed to add comfort to visitors. He said government should provide adequate funds to provide facilities in order to attract local and foreign tourists. He also expressed the need for additional man power for effecting patrols against poaching, logging of tress, illegal mining of Gold and illegal grazing, which have been a source of concern to the park authorities.

“The park contains the most important area of montane forest in Nigeria, and the Caps of the montane forest are identified to be critical to watershed conservation and climate change regulation” he said. He added that the issue of security was a serious challenge which needs to be addressed urgently. He appealed to the police and the Army to increase patrols around the park.

 

“Our rangers that patrol the park need patrol vehicles ,weapons and therefore the state government should come to the aid of the park by donating patrol vehicles to ensure proper security surveillance in the park” he said.

The conservator also explained that Gashaka- Gumti National park has the potential to generate huge revenue if facilities at the park are uplifted, adding that the park has a diverse ecosystem hardly found in any part of Africa.

He said that part of the mandate of the National park was to protect the wild life as well as the eco- system ,but there were cases of illegal mining, illegal logging of trees and illegal grazing which should be addressed to protect the eco system in the park

According to the conservator, the park has all the species of insects, wild life ,trees and fishes ,adding that two types of fish species and 7 species of Monkeys were found in the park by a team of researchers, that were never found elsewhere in the world.

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