Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Cross River National Park

 

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Located in Cross River State, Nigeria. There are two separate sections, Okwangwo (established 1991) and Oban (established 1988). The park has a total area of about 4,000 km2, most of which consists of primary moist tropical rainforests in the North and Central parts, with mangrove swamps on the coastal zones. 
 
The park has one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, and has been identified as a biodiversity hot spot. Sixteen primate species have been recorded in the park. Rare primates include common chimpanzees, drills and (in Okwangwo) Cross River gorillas. The division has a rugged terrain, rising from 100 m in the river valleys to over 1,000 m in the mountains.
 
It is one of the two parts of Nigeria where Xavier's greenbul is found. Other species unusual in Nigeria include bat hawk, Cassin's hawk-eagle, crested guineafowl, grey-throated rail, olive long-tailed cuckoo, bare-cheeked trogon, lyre-tailed honeyguide, green-backed bulbul, grey-throated tit-flycatcher and Rachel's malimbe. 42 species of snake have been counted. There are at least 75 mammal species, including the African buffalo, the endangered African forest elephants, common chimpanzee, Preuss's red colobus and Sclater's guenon and the highly endangered drill.
 
The park is home to about 78% of the primate species that are found in Nigeria, including the vulnerable common chimpanzee and western gorilla, and the endangered Sclater's guenon, Preuss's monkey and drill, which coexist in the same areas of the park. Other large mammals include the endangered African forest elephant and more common African buffalo.
 
The gorilla habitat consists of semi-deciduous, montane and derived savannah environments in a complex of hilly escarpments with steep valleys, with peaks that rise as high as 2,000m. The primary base for gorillas is Mbe mountain, with a population of 30-40 individuals, not yet incorporated in the park. The gorillas are also vulnerable to hunting, but generally the Boki people of the region prefer smaller game.
 
The park has been given the motto "The Pride Of Nigeria". The Kanyang tourist village, about one hour's drive from Calabar, will give visitors a base from which to view the park, with a lodge, restaurant and wildlife museum. Activities include game viewing, bird watching, gorilla tracking, mountaineering or hiking, sport fishing, boat cruising and the Botanical garden and Herbarium in Butatong.
 
Attractions include the Kwa Falls, in a narrow, steep gorge near the headwaters of the Kwa River. The deep plunge pool at the foot of the waterfall was hidden under the thick canopy of the tropical rainforest before deforestation. The Agbpkim Waterfalls on the Cross River descend in terraces through the tropical rainforest. There is a mini zoological garden housing species of animals rarely found in Nigeria, which has helped save some rare species from extinction.

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