THE YANKARI NATIONAL PARK
The Yankari National Park is situated in Bauchi, a North-Eastern state in Nigeria. It covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres and it is located in the heartland of the West African Savanna. It was properly managed by the National Parks Service until it was handed to the Bauchi state government in 2006. The park contributes to the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is the most popular destination for tourists and most popular eco-destination in West Africa.
Originally, it was created as a game reserve in 1956, but it designated as a national park in 1991. The Yankari National Park is home to different kinds of warm water springs as well as Flora and Fauna. There are different species of animals in the park starting from mammals to aves (birds). There are over 50 species of mammals which include; Tantalus monkey, patas Monkey, Antelope, Buffalo, Lions, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Warthogs, Olive Baboon, Waterbucks, Bushbucks, Western hartebeest and so on, over 350 species of birds which include; Goliath Heron, Bateleur eagle, Vultures, Kingfishers, Cattle Egret, Guinea fowl, Grey horn-bill, saddle-billed stork and so on. All of these can be found in the park.
Apart from animals, the park also features four warm water springs and one cold water spring, making it five in total. The warm water springs are; Wikki, Dimil, Gwan and Nawulgo. Tungan Naliki is the cold spring in the park. Entering the museum, various kinds of animal skins, tusks, bones and fully mounted stuffed game from the park. There are also hunting gear and traps taken from poachers which serve as educational or as a conservative center.
When talking of the largest surviving elephant population in Nigeria, and also one of the largest in West Africa, Yankari National Park should be mention. The park is been protected by a ranger force of about 80 and 25 international standard trained staff. The rangers are staged at strategic ranger posts surrounding the park. Part of the revenue generated from tourism is used to support protection activities by rangers.
According to statistics, about 20,000 tourists from over 100 countries visit Yankari National Park in year 2000. People from all over the world visit the park with dominant visitors mostly from Japan, America, South-East Asia, and Western Europe. The best time to visit the park is from November to May. During this period, the thick green vegetation would have dried up and the animals will gather near the stream to drink from it.
FACILITIES AT YANKARI NATIONAL PARK
The “Wikki camp” is the tourist centre of the park. It is located at about 42 kilometers from the main entrance gate. The camp is beside the Wikki warm spring in which it was named after it. The camp is always open for 24 hours a day for swimming. There are 110 furnished chalets in different size and quality.
They are of different grades starting from the presidential suites to the youth hostel. There are also restaurant, bar and conference centre. Tennis court, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area, gas stations and so on are also at the park.
The most interesting part of the camp is the Wikki warm spring that gushes out from under a cliff which can serve as a relaxation spot after a hot day. The water is at least 6 ft deep, with a bathing area that extends to 600 ft to an open area. The Wikki warm spring is the largest spring in the park and is about 13.0 metres wide and 1.9 metres deep. It flows 21,000,000 litres of clear spring water into the Gaji river daily and have a constant temperature of 31.1 degree centigrade through the year (day and night).
NOTE: Gaji river is the only source of water for the animals during dry season.