Nigeria’s wildlife has suffered from a variety of ills as a result of the country’s expanding population, poaching, resource extraction and other anthropogenic effects. National parks and game reserves provide the last strongholds for many of its larger creatures. The African lion, for example, the continent’s biggest and most dominating carnivore, has been mostly eradicated from Nigeria, but visitors to Yankari and Kainji Lake might see these huge tawny cats. Birdlife can be extraordinarily diverse.
Aquatic creatures add to the wildlife-watching action: Rivers in Yankari Game Reserve, for example, harbor Nile and slender-snouted crocodiles. The waters of the Niger River in Kainji Lake shelter one of Nigeria’s most intriguing and threatened creatures, the African manatee, a close relative of the West Indian manatee so emblematic of Florida. Cross River National Park, with its steaming lowland rainforests and swamps, is a great stronghold of Nigeria’s primates, from endemic monkeys to great apes: the exceedingly rare Cross River gorilla — a subspecies of western lowland gorilla — and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.