Yankari is located in the east-central part of the country, some 72 km north of the Bauchi–Gombe road at Dindima. The park is bisected by the Gaji river. Two major habitat-types occur; dry savanna woodlands and riparian vegetation, which includes areas of fadama. Common woodland trees include Afzelia africana, Burkea africana, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Isoberlinia doka, Monotes kerstingii, Combretum glutinosum, Detarium microcarpum and Anogeissus leiocarpus. Gardenia aqualla and Dichrostachys glomerata are frequent in the shrub layer while Hyparrhenia involucrata and H. bagirmica are the dominant grasses. In riparian forest Khaya senegalensis, Vitex doniana, Acacia sieberiana, Tamarindus indica, Borassus aethiopum and Daniella oliveri are common. Characteristic of Yankari are large monodominant stands of Pteleopsis habeensis which grow in some drier areas along riverbanks, the only place in the country where such stands occur. In the seasonally flooded fadamas, Ficus spp. and Mitragyna sp. are the dominant trees, while tangles of Mimosa pigra dominate the shrub stratum.
See Box and Table 3. Some 337 species have so far been recorded. Up to six Ciconia nigra have been recorded winteringand it is the only site where Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis is regularly seen.
Non-bird biodiversity: Large mammals include Loxodonta africana (EN) (330 in April 1999), Alcelaphus buselaphus (LR/cd), Syncerus caffer (LR/cd), Hippotragus equinus (LR/cd) and Panthera leo (VU).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Yankari was gazetted as a Game Reserve in 1956, the first in Nigeria, and became a National Park in 1991. As a result of this long period of protection, the park has become the nation’s foremost wildlife area and a major tourist attraction in Nigeria. Three major obstacles to conservation persist at Yankari—poaching, illegal grazing and bush fires. The introduction of rinderpest into the reserve in 1982, as a consequence of illegal grazing by pastoralists, significantly reduced the populations of large herbivores, e.g. Syncerus caffer. Annual dry-season bush fires set by poachers to flush mammals are also believed to be changing the structure and composition of the park’s vegetation. There has also been some concern over the spread of neem tree Azadirachta indica in the park. The seeds of the species are dispersed by baboons and other primates which feed on their fruits. In addition, the growing population of Loxodonta africana in the park is becoming a problem. During their annual wet-season movements out of the park, they cause damage to crops belonging to the park’s support-zone communities. This results in claims for large amounts of compensation, and culling and can also lead to poaching. Loxodonta africana have also destroyed many of the baobab trees Adansonia digitata in the park and may, in time, completely eliminate the species.