Nigeria is a country on the West coast of the continent of Africa. Its location and geography gives Nigeria a wide range of ecosystems and land types. These can range from coastal ecosystems next to the Atlantic ocean to the dry grasslands of the savanna to tropical rainforests to swampy mangroves.
Thanks to this diversity in biomes and ecosystems in Nigeria, there are hundreds of diverse animals and plants that find their habitats in that country.
The geographical location of Nigeria gives rise to a variety of climates, topographical ranges and biomes. The four main biomes found within Nigeria are tropical rainforests, swampy mangroves and savannas.
Tropical rainforests are hot and wet year round. The average temperature is 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F) with upwards of 78 inches of rain per year.
The mangrove swamps of Nigeria are found close to the tropics/equator combined with a close proximity to rivers and the coast. They're defined by very heavy rainfall (more than 98 inches per year) with an average temperature of 79 degrees F (26 degrees C). They also have wet soils, brackish water and low swampy forests.
The savannas are perhaps the most famous biome in Nigeria, with distinct wet and dry seasons. The landscape is flat and dominated by grasses with a few trees scattered across the landscape. Fires are common during the dry season and temperatures average well above 84.2 degrees F (29 degrees C).
Plants in Nigeria
You can divide the common plants in Nigeria based on which biome they appear in.
Tropical rainforests in Nigeria are famous for their epiphyte plants, which are plants that mainly grow on other plants. This includes orchids, mosses, lichens and various species of cacti. The African white mahogany tree and the ube tree are both common rainforest trees found in Nigeria as well. Both of these trees are often cut down for their wood, and the ube tree also produces edible fruits (also called African pears) that are common in Nigerian food and culture.
Mangrove swamps have a long list of Nigerian trees that include various species of mangrove trees such as tall red mangrove trees, dwarf red mangrove trees, black mangrove trees and white mangrove trees. You'll also find bamboo, the chandelier tree, nipa palms, raffia palms and Gnetum africanum, an evergreen climbing shrub.
Savannas are dominant in grasses, with Bermuda grass and elephant grass the two most common species. Trees that dot the landscape include the Senegal Gum Acacia, the Corkscrew Eucalyptus, the Umbrella Acacia, the Khaya senegalensis and the Mitragyna africanus. You'll also find bushes and shrubs like the baobab and the river bushwillow.
Animals in Nigeria
Animals can be similarly split into these main three biomes as well.
Tropical rainforests in Nigeria are home to the endangered African forest elephant, the White-Throated Guenon monkey and the famous gorilla. Forest elephants are much smaller than the African elephants found on the savanna, and they're also more endangered. These forests are also home to a subspecies of chimpanzee called the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee. Due to rainforest destruction, many of the species in Nigerian rainforests, including this subspecies of chimps, are critically endangered.
Swamps and wet forests are home to the pygmy hippopotamus. These elusive miniatures of the famous river hippos are found very rarely in Nigeria, but they do appear in this area. You'll also find the threatened West African manatee, Sclater's monkeys, flamingo and various bird species, turtle species including the leatherback turtle and ample fish species as well.
Savannas in Nigeria contain similar biodiversity to other areas of African savanna. This includes the species that many people think of when they think of Africa, such as lions, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, gazelles, aardvarks, termites, rock pythons, shrews and the African wild dog.
- Pass Now Now: Biomes of Nigeria
- Britannica: Nigeria
- World Atlas: Native Plants of Nigeria
- Cal Tech: The Plants of the Rainforest
- Ethnobotany Research and Applications: Ethnobotany of Dacryodes edulis (G.Don) H.J. Lam in Southern Nigeria 2: Practices and Applications Among Igbo-Speaking People
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Fodder Species in Nigeria
- African Wildlife Foundation: African Forest Elephant
- Edge of ExistenceL Pygmy Hippopotamus
- World Atlas: Animals in Nigeria
- Blue Planet Biomes: Animals in Nigeria
- World Wildlife Foundation: Western Africa
- Animal Info: Nigeria
About the Author
Elliot Walsh holds a B.S in Cell and Developmental Biology and a B.A in English Literature from the University of Rochester. He's worked in multiple academic research labs, at a pharmaceutical company, as a TA for chemistry, and as a tutor in STEM subjects. He's currently working full-time as a content writer and editor.