The National Park Service on Saturday called on local and international tourists who love to relate with nature to visit some of its parks spread across five geographical zones in Nigeria.
Its Conservator-General (CG), Alhaji Ibrahim Goni, made the call during a webinar session organised by the Nigeria Travel Week and Travelscope Magazine, with the theme: “A Fresh Start for Tourism in Nigeria: Recreation and Entertainment”.
Goni lamented the serious decline in Nigerians patronage of the parks due to the focus on oil and Nigerians’ lack of interest in agriculture and wildlife.
He said Nigeria had seven national parks covering an area of about 22,000 square kilometres and full of fauna and floral endowments.
“We have the Chad Basin located between Borno and Yobe states on a land space of about 4000 sqare kilometre, also the Gashaka Gumti National Park, the largest located between Adamawa and Taraba states.
“Kanji Lake National Park covering about 5340 square kilometres land space is located between Niger and Kwara states; the Old Oyo National Park, named after the ancient Oyo empire in Oyo State is covering an area of about 2200 square kilometres.
“Also, the Cross River National Park, which is the oldest rain forest in Africa and largest in Nigeria, covers an area of about 4000 square kilometres; it houses the spectacular low land gorillas in the West Africa region.
“We have the Okomu National Park in Edo States, the smallest, covering an area of about 200 square kilometres; it has the spectacular guano monkeys, also known for its rain forest species of plants.
“And lastly, the Kamuku National Park in Kaduna State on an area of about 1220 square kilometres; these sites are open for all to visit,” he said.
Goni said the animals defer from park to park as those in the forest areas were the bufallo, chimpanzees, different types of monkeys and more.
He said the animals that could be found in Chad Basin were giraffe, ostriches, gazelles and in the central area of Nigeria were the antelopes, bufallo, lions, Nigerian tourists’ delight, and elephants.
“We are open to visitors, tourists traffic has declined over the years because people have not created interest in wildlife and agriculture.
“We also have tall trees which measure to several metres high on which we have habitats of so many birds, insects and other climbers,” he said.
The CG said that the Federal Government was trying its best at resucitating the national parks with much effort in imitating best practises from countries like South Africa and the East Africa.
He noted that government was also working on introducing some Public Private Partnership arrangements through the commercialisation process which was currently being handled by the office of the Vice President.
Goni said that one significant plant the National Park Service was working on along with the pharmacitical industries was the antidote been researched for the dreaded HIV, found in Cross River Park.
He urged Nigerian tour operators to acquire some knowledge on the endowments of each of the national parks to enable them market the parks to local and international tourists.
He assured the tour operators of the National Park Service’s willingness to train as much as would indicate interest.
“We observed that most Nigerian tour operators do not know much about the floral and fauna assets of each park, we are ready to organise seminars to educate them,” he said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
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