Yankari Game Reserve is a large wildlife park located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in northeastern Nigeria. It is the country's richest wildlife oasis, it covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres. Yankari Game Reserve is located in the heartland of the West African savanna. Itwas originally created as a game reserve in 1956 and later upgraded to a national park in 1991, managed by the National Parks Service until 2006 when responsibility for the management of the reserve was handed back to Bauchi State Government. It contributes to the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria because it is the most popular destination for tourists and it is the most popular eco-destinations in West Africa.
Yankari Game Reserve contains the largest surviving elephant population in Nigeria, and one of the largest in West Africa. This population of elephants is perhaps the only viable population remaining in Nigeria. In addition, there are also other animals in the reserve like lion, buffalo, hippo, roan and hartebeest and others.
Yankari is protected by a ranger force of around 80, managed and supervised by officers of the Ministry of Environment of Bauchi State. These rangers are staged at strategic ranger posts surrounding the reserve. Yankari is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and some of the revenue generated from tourism is used to support protection activities by rangers.
Yankari National Park is composed of savannah grassland with well-developed patches of woodland. It is also a region of rolling hills, mostly between 200m and 400m. Kariyo Hill, is the highest point at 640m.
Yankari has rich wildlife resources. The park is an important refuge for over 50 species of mammal including African bush elephant, olive baboon, patas monkey, Tantalus monkey, roan antelope, western hartebeest, West African lion, African buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck and hippopotamus. The Sudan cheetah may have been extirpated from the area. It also has a large and diverse freshwater ecosystem around its freshwater springs and the Raji River.
There are also over 350 species of bird found in the park. Of these, 130 are resident, 50 are Palearctic migrants and the rest are intra-African migrants that move locally within Nigeria. These birds include the saddle-billed stork, white-rumped vulture, guinea fowl, grey hornbill, and the cattle egret.
Due to underground geothermal activity, Yankari National Park also features four warm water springs. The camp is named after the most well known of these, the Wikki Spring, from the local Duguri language with “Wikki” meaning “where are you?”. The Wikki Warm Spring is the largest spring and is about 13.0 metres wide and 1.9 metres deep. It daily flows 21,000,000 litres of clear, spring water into the Gaji river. The other warm water springs are Dimmil, Gwan, and Nawulgo springs. The only cool spring in the park is Tungan Naliki.
The tourist centre of the park is “Wikki Camp” and it is located about 42 kilometres from the main entrance gate, the camp is built beside, and named after, the Wikki warm spring, which is open for swimming 24 hours a day. There are 110 furnished chalets with varying size and quality, ranging from the ‘’presidential’’ suites to the youth hostel, all of which are being upgraded in phases. The camp also provides a restaurant, bar and conference centre.
There is a museum in the camp and it is well stocked with a variety of skins, tusks, bones and fully mounted stuffed game from the park. It is educational while also acting as a conservation centre for displaying hunting gear and traps taken from poachers.