After being told that tourism is a focus of the Gov. MA Abubakar’s administration of Bauchi state I decided to spend the recent holidays in Bauchi and took my family along for a visit to the Yankari Game Reserve.
Yankari Game Reserve is a large wildlife park located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, Nigeria. It covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres (866 sq mi) and is home to several natural warm water springs, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna.
At the reserve, I happened to stumble on Engr. Habu Mamman, the Sole Administrator of the Yankari Game Reserve, who revealed that the reserve is also a vast village to animals such as primates, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi, crocodiles, hippopotamus, roan gazelle, wild ox and countless species of monkeys.
It is located near Gagi River, just some few kilometres south-east of Bauchi Town. The magnificence and size of The Yankari Game Reserve make it the most popular hold in Nigeria. It was established in the year 1956 and opened to people in general in 1962; the primary amusement seeing regions of the reserve are open lasting through the year. People from all around the globe visit the game-reserve with dominant travellers mostly from Japan, Western Europe, America and South-east Asia.
Unarguably one of the country’s richest reserve, Yankari Game Reserve also contains one of the largest surviving elephant population in West Africa. Mamman said estimated at 350 individuals, this population of elephants is perhaps the only viable population remaining in Nigeria and the reserve also contain important populations of lion, buffalo, hippo, roan and hartebeest.
Protected by a ranger force, Yankari Game Reserve stands out as one of the most popular tourist destination in Nigeria. Over 50 animal species in the reserve, though this is an old figure as most of the animals live in the wild and are thus rarely seen, 350 species of birds and 17 species of reptiles
Though the reserve host visitors all year round, but the best time to visit is when the vegetation has dried out and animals begin to parade the waterways thus enhancing more experience and amusement.
Of course, this area is a no-go area for animals; and it is definitely safe for visitors. Except a variety of winged creatures, offering their benediction from the sky.
The Nigerian National Park Service NPS was hitherto in charge but since 2006 ownership of the reserve reverted back to the state government.
Another interesting feature of the reserve is the Wikki Warm Spring, which is great spot to unwind and cool oneself. The Springs is one of the best elements of the park. Surge lit during the evening, it is great following a hot day’s amusement review to unwind in the warm water. The spring spouts out from under a bluff, where the water is no less than 6 ft. profound, with a showering range that reaches out for 600 ft. to an open territory. The recreation centre is possessed by an assortment of feathered creatures, including the gigantic saddle bill stork, goliath heron, bateleur falcon, vultures, kingfishers, honey bee eaters and the sky is the limit from there. It is amazing for genuine fledgling watchers.
The Sole Administrator said Boko Haram activities in the N/East has not affected, the perception of people has not changed and said the 1st APC Congress meeting was held at Yankari, and with 14 Governors in attendance, it was beginning of rejuvenation, it sent a message.
Bureaucracy, Engr. Habu Mamman said poses a serious problem, but the state government is introducing a golf course, an existing airstrip has been established a long time ago but it is now tarred, with a helipad, and he added that collaring of animals especially elephants will help direct tourists and anti-poachers.
The World Conservation Society is helping in training rangers, recently, he said, tracks of a leopard that killed a warthog were discovered. Rangers trained to live in the bush, very soon walkie-talkie will be given to them to enhance communication.
The reserve is hosting conferences, meetings etc. There is adequate security, 10, mobile policemen, 25 military men who regularly patrol the reserve
Potential is higher than it used to be despite the existence of another park, the Sumu Wildlife Park. You can visit Yankari by road from Lagos or Abuja, for those coming from Lagos you make an overnight stop, then on to Jos and Bauchi,
The Yankari Game Reserve and Resort has rooms that come in the categories of student hostel, studio suite, luxury double, VIP, corporate villa, twofold rooms and family chalets that incorporate little kitchens. The reserve boast of affordable room rates and peak periods are during festivities and holidays.
Interestingly, these rooms come with awesome facilities such as: king-size beds, telephones, bedside drawers, private bathrooms with state-of-the-art bathtubs, flat screen television sets with access to a wide variety of TV Channels, plus free wireless internet access. As for GSM, there is Zain and MTN, but Etisalat and Glo stops at the entrance.
It is obvious that the management of the reserve have been grossly under-supported since 2006 since Bauchi State Government assumed control duty regarding the administration of Yankari Game Reserve. Accordingly, levels of poaching have expanded, with encouraged poachers (a cartel from Chad, Niger) working even close to the vacationer camp arranged in the focal points. Unsubstantiated reports propose that vast quantities of elephants have been executed as of late to supply Nigeria’s unlawful exchange ivory.
Likewise, struggle amongst elephants and nearby groups living close to the limits of the reserve therefore of yield harm has diminished levels of group support for the amusement save and urges neighbourhood groups to bolster elephant poachers from outside the area. Poaching of other vast warm-blooded animals to supply the lucrative bush meat exchange additionally debilitates to undermine the ecotourism capability of Yankari by further decreasing open doors for diversion seeing by vacationers.
Tourism is capital intensive despite the natural endowment, and gaining confidence of tourists is the key, thus the M.A. Abubakar administration must be commended but it should up its ante, there is need to look for partnership and need to open the reserve more.
There should be a robust policy framework in many ways, the Bauchi Investment and Internal Revenue Service should key in as a relevant stakeholder since the National Tourist Development Company NTDC not partnering enough.
Abdul Mamman Gombe wrote from Abuja