Over the last 3 decades, Nigeria has witnessed unprecedented destruction of its natural resources so that less than 3% of the original rainforest cover now remains and large areas of savanna woodland in the north have been converted into farmlands. With a growing population of over 130 million people, the pressures are unlikely to abate so that the future survival of the country’s faunal resources is likely to be dependent on the maintenance of its 8 National Parks and the various game and forest reserves throughout the country. The National Parks cover an area of only 22,592 km2, about 2.5% of the country, so there is a pressing need to upgrade some of the other reserves into Parks to ensure that all habitat types are adequately protected within the Park system. Unfortunately, most forest and game reserves throughout the country receive little or no protection so they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Even in the National Parks, poaching levels are a matter of concern although the habitat in the Parks has been largely spared the destruction elsewhere.
The poaching pressures throughout Nigeria have led to the demise of many of the larger birds in Nigeria so that Ostrich Struthio camelus are now restricted to a very small area in the north-east and similarly, Black Crowned Crane Balearica pavonina has all but been extirpated in the country. All species of bustard are now extremely scarce and the big vultures can only be seen with any reliability in the National Parks. Grey Parrots Psittacus erithacus once abundant throughout the south are now scarce as a result of the demand for the pet trade. The large forest hornbills are virtually restricted to the 2 Forest National Parks as a result of the hunting pressures. Apart from the birds, it is now almost impossible to see any large mammal outside of the National Parks so if the country is to retain a representative selection of its faunal resources, it is imperative to ensure that the Parks are totally protected.