Monitoring the bird species of southwest Nigeria

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Nigeria is an ornithologically diverse country with various species of birds. According to the African Bird Club, over 900 bird species have been recorded in Nigeria, ranking it the 7th most ornithologically diverse country on the African continent.

However, Nigeria’s human population currently (mid-2023) stands at 223 million, with a projected annual growth rate of 2.4%. As the country’s total landmass is fixed at 923,768 km2, the available natural areas face continuing threats from anthropogenic activities like unsustainable farming practices, exploitation, and urbanization. The crucial question is, “How do we conserve Nigeria’s dwindling biodiversity caused by habitat degradation?”

IITA Forest Center Manager Adewale Awoyemi answered part of this question during a webinar organized by the group “Fridays4Birds” on 27 October. He focused on bird conservation in southwest Nigeria. He noted, “Birds can be used to assess the health of the environment.”

There are 27 designated Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Nigeria, of which only two are found in the southwest region—the IITA Forest Reserve in Ibadan and Omo Forest Reserve in Ogun State. “Perhaps the most ambitious action targeted at conserving Nigeria’s vast bird diversity was the designation of the KBA sites,” Awoyemi said. He quickly added, “The 27 KBAs in Nigeria account for merely 3% of the country’s total landmass, suggesting that we need to do more work.”

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