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Discover Nigeria > Heritage and Culture > Okomu National Park

Okomu National Park

OKOMU National Park is the smallest of the seven National Parks in Nigeria. The Park is a rainforest ecosystem gazetted from the former Okomu Forest reserve in 1935. It is a good habitat for numerous endangered flora and fauna species.

The Okomu National Park, formerly the Okomu Wildlife Sanctuary, is a forest block within the 1,082 km² Okomu Forest Reserve in the Ovia South-West Local Government Area of Edo State in Nigeria. The park is about 60 km North west of Benin City. It holds a small fragment of the rich forest that once covered the region, and is the last habitat for many endangered species. It continues to shrink as villages encroach on it, and is now less than one third of its original size.Powerful corporations are involved in plantation development and logging concessions around the park, which also pose a threat.

Historically, Okomu national park holds a remnant of the Nigeria lowland forests that has formed a continuous 50-100 km wide belt from River Niger west to Dahomey Gap in Benin and to the south and southeast the forest is being separated from the coast by mangrove and swamp forests, while to the north it merged into the Guinean Forest-Savanna Mosaic eco-region. The Park has an extensive layer of charcoal and pottery below the forest, indicating that it has been cleared before and then regenerated over the last 700 years it has about 200 km² wildlife sanctuaries, a rainforest ecosystem which is the habitat for many endangered species of flora and fauna, was gazetted from the Okomu Forest Reserve in 1935

Okomu Park is drained by the Osse River which defines its eastern boundary.The Okomu River forms the western boundary. Rainfall is between 1,524 and 2,540 mm per year.  Soils are acidic, nutrient-poor sandy loam. Vegetation is Guinea–Congo lowland rain forest, including areas of swamp-forest, high forest, secondary forest, and open scrub. Among the common trees are Kapok, Celtis zenkeri, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Antiaris africana, Pycnanthus angolensis and Alstonia congoensis. The park is probably the best example of mature secondary forest in southwest Nigeria.

The park is accessible to tourists, and has well marked trails. There are two tree houses, one 140 feet high in a silk-cotton tree, from which visitors can view the park from above and observe bird life. Visitors can stay at chalets built on stilts, just outside the park entrance, surrounded by fig trees that are often occupied by Mona monkeys. Guides are available for forest walks, and will point out such things as termite nests and the many medicinal plants.

There is a population of white-throated guenon, elephants, chimpanzees, African Buffalo, dwarf crocodiles, red river hog, sitatunga, warthog, civet cat, Maxwell's duiker, grass cutter, mona monkey, Thomas's galago and tree pangolin.

About 150 species of birds have been identified.They are, Angolan pitta, grey parrot, wrinkled hornbill, fish eagle, hawks, woodpeckers, great owl, grey hornbill, cattle egret, black-casqued hornbill, yellow-casqued hornbill, Sabine's spinetail, Cassin's spinetail, black spinetail, white-breasted negrofinch, chestnut-breasted negrofinch, pale-fronted negrofinch and yellow-throated cuckoo.

A survey of land molluscs in a small area of the forest found 46 species in 11 molluscan families, of which Streptaxidae snails accounted for over a third Also, it houses over 700 species of colourful butterflies.

Another distinctive feature of the park is the Okomu River that runs through it. It is from the river that the park derives its name. Though there are other rivers and streams, such as Osse River and Arakhuan stream within its space, the one that appears most captivating and holds potential for a number of water leisure activities, is Okomu River.

 One thing a tourist or even a first time visitor to the park would not forget in a hurry is the rich flora and ecosystem of the park. As a rainforest park, God has endowed the park with very rich and awe-inspiring flora. The beauty of the park is something that beckons at you the moment you walk into the wild. The air, the green luscious expanse of wild that stretches ahead of you is most luxuriating and captivating