A guide to unique animals in Nigeria

Nigeria is home to many different ecosystems. Within its borders, you can find savannas, swamps, deserts, mountains, and forests. With a portfolio like this, it should be of no surprise the kind of diverse wildlife that lies hidden in Nigeria’s nooks and crannies. There are over 40,000 species of animals scattered around the country, and this article will intimate you with a few of them.

Unique animals in Nigeria

Nigeria is a land unique in many ways. Even the wildlife in the country boast of being different from the animals in other parts of the world. A few of them can’t be found anywhere else outside the Nigerian border.

Below we listed a few of them:

Nigerian Klipspringer

Photo credit: Wikipedia

These antelope-like animals can be found in Jos Plateau. These are West Africa’s only population of klipspringers. They are adorable creatures that look like they were pulled from Disney’s Bambi.

Fox’s Shaggy Rat

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This rodent species belongs to the family Muridae. They can only be found in Nigeria. These brown-furred creatures can be found in plantations, swamplands, moist savannahs, and flooded grasslands.

Niger Delta Red Colobus

Photo credit: Rainforest Trust

These monkeys are indeed a sight to behold if you are lucky enough to see one. However, their bright red fur is their most captivating feature. The red fur takes a more significant portion of their back down to their limbs. Other parts of their fur are colored either white or black.

They are known to travel in groups of 15-80 and mostly on forest vegetation. They spend a large portion of their time traveling and avoiding the crowned eagle- its most feared predator.

Sclater’s Monkey

Photo credit: YoubaNet

The Sclater monkey is an arboreal and diurnal primate endemic to Southern Nigeria. Like all guenons, Sclater’s guenon has beautifully colored fur. However, their furs are a mix of grey and white. These monkeys were thought to be endangered at some point, but several populations were rediscovered in Niger and Cross River.

Their population is protected by groups who believe the monkey is sacred. Another population can be found in captivity at the Centre for Education, Rehabilitation, and Conservation of Primates and Nature in Cross River State, Nigeria.

Kaduna Acraea

Cheers to the first insect on our list. The Kaduna Acraea is a butterfly that belongs to the Nymphalidae family. These butterflies are found in flood plains and swamps around Zaria and Kaduna.

Nigeria Euptera

Photo credit: Wikiwand

This is another class of butterflies found in Nigeria. You may have seen them before with their black and yellow spotted wings.

Jos Plateau Indigo Bird

Photo credit: DiBird

The Jos Plateau Indigo birds are endemic to Nigeria. However, you’ll find their eggs in the nest of the rock firefinch, another animal restricted to Nigeria’s borders. Their reason for doing this is because they cannot incubate their eggs themselves. Therefore, to avoid suspicion from the host bird, they take away the eggs from the nest they dropped their eggs in. They breed all around the year but mainly during the cold harmattan season.

Anambra Waxbill

Photo credit: Steemit

The Anambra Waxbill is a small bird of beautiful colors that can only be found in Nigeria. These birds usually group themselves in small flocks of 20 and feed off seeds and grasses. A typical Anambra waxbill is a dun-colored finch with a reddish beak and rump. Lagoons, swamps, marshlands, and forests are good places to find these birds. Unlike other waxbill counterparts, the Anambra waxbill has pale eyes.

Ibadan Malimbe

The Ibadan Malimbe is a rare bird endemic to Western Nigeria, and unfortunately, it is not well known. The Malimbe is a small black bird with red feathers covering its head and chest. Female Malimbes have fewer red coverings compared to their male counterparts. You can find them in small groups foraging for food. Sometimes they feed alongside their cousins – the redhead Malimbe.

Perret’s Toad

Photo credit: Species Conservation

This toad is endemic to Idanre Hills in Ondo state. Initially, it was believed that the toad would be spotted in areas similar to the hills, but surveys have failed to prove this thought. Unfortunately, they are listed as critically endangered species because of the decline in the quality of their habitat.

Gotel Mountain Soft-furred Mouse

Photo credit: Living Things

The Gotel Mountain mouse, also called Gotel Mountain Praomys, belongs to the rodent species Muridae. These mice are endemic to the Gotel mountains in Southeastern Nigeria. You can typically find them in forests; gallery forests, swamp forests, and fern-grasslands.

Unfortunately, these soft-furred creatures are threatened with habitat loss mainly caused by deforestation. These forests have suffered severe logging cases, or they have been converted for agricultural use by humans.

Most Endangered Animals in Nigeria

Animals across the globe are fast becoming endangered. Animals in Nigeria are not exempt from this. We must protect these animals in the best way we can while the government and reserves do their best to prevent these creatures from going extinct.

Below we listed a few endangered animals in Nigeria:

Dama Gazelle

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Dama gazelle is white with a brown head and neck. They have long S-shaped horns; the males usually have longer horns than the females. These animals cannot adapt to heat; hence many of them die off from overheating during droughts. In addition, their diet is dominated by vegetation; this is another reason why they cannot adapt to droughts. Humans have also contributed to their reduced numbers because they are hunted for meat. These gazelles are amongst the largest of their kind; they easily evade danger by using their strong legs to prance away.

West African Lion

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The West African and South African lions share similar traits. However, the most distinguishing feature between the two is that West African lions are smaller and have no manes. These lions have become endangered due to habitat loss for the sake of Agriculture. Many of them can be found in captivity, and they are said to thrive well in captivity.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Photo credit: San Diego Zoo

Pygmy hippos are endangered mainly because of habitat loss. Habitat loss occurs from deforestation in the form of mining, logging, and poaching. So naturally, these creatures should be rarely seen and heard from. However, they are closer to humans than ever, which has contributed to their numbers’ decline.

Northwestern African Cheetahs

These cheetahs have a different look from the rest of their feline counterparts. Their fur is almost white in appearance, and the upper half of their body is littered with black spots. The spots fade off to brown as they approach the lower half of its body. They have no spots on their face but black “teardrops.”

These cheetahs prey on the gazelle, antelope, and addax. They developed nocturnal traits to survive the hot climate of Nigeria’s savanna. Unfortunately, they are critically endangered.

Western Gorilla

Photo credit: World Wild Life

Of all gorilla subspecies, the Western Gorilla is the most popular. They are found all over Central Africa, Gabon, Congo, and Nigeria. It is easy to differentiate them from other gorillas because they are slightly smaller. They also have broader skulls and smaller ears.

Over the past 20-25 years, these gorillas have declined in number significantly. This is due to poaching and disease.

Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzee

Photo credit: Wikipedia

As the name already indicates, the Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzee is native to Cameroon and Nigeria. These primate subspecies can weigh about 154 pounds and reach a height of 5.2 feet. Unfortunately, due to human activity, these creatures have become critically endangered. However, they can still be found in a few forests Oluwa Forest Reserve and Idanre Forest Reserve.

Where to Find Wild Animals in Nigeria

If you are ever in Nigeria and want to get a taste of the wildlife but have no idea where to visit, try some of the locations listed below:

  • Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary- Gorillas Hubspot
  • Okomu National Park- The best place to see forest elephants
  • Yankari National Park- Top spot to see Savanna elephants
  • Nyaki Forest Reserve- You can catch a glimpse of the Nigerian-Cameroon chimpanzees here.
  • Kainji Lake National Park- An excellent spot to check for leopards which are coming harder to find in Nigeria


It’s amazing what you can find in the crevices of Nigeria’s mountains and savannas. Some of these animals are so rare they can’t be found anywhere else. So who wouldn’t want to rush down there to get a glimpse of these magnificent creatures up close? Unfortunately, wildlife in Nigeria is under threat. As the day progresses, more animals are at risk of becoming endangered due to habitat loss. Therefore, we are encouraged to be mindful of how we interact with the environment and how it affects the wildlife near us. Since the reduced quality of their habitat is caused by farming, mining, deforestation, and other forms of human activities.

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