I will be writing extensively about the savanna region of Nigeria. This region is one of the most crucial part of the country that supports food production as well as animal protein.
Savannas are commonly referred to as tropical grasslands. The largest savannas are in Africa, where tropical grasslands cover a large part of the center of the continent, including Kenya and Tanzania. There are also savanna regions to the west of Africa like Nigeria.
There are two distinct seasons in savanna regions: the wet season and the dry season. During the dry season, there is hardly any rain. During the rainy season, vegetation such as wooded areas and lush green grass grows. The grassland gets progressively dryer as you travel farther from the equator and its abundant rains, especially during the dry season. Scrub, grasses, and sporadic trees make up the savanna vegetation, which is found near water sources including aquifers, seasonal rivers, and water holes.
Animals and plants must adjust to the extended dry spells. Many plants, such as the acacia tree, with its tiny, waxy leaves and thorns, are xerophytic. Additionally, some plants may store water (such as the baobab tree) or have long roots that extend to the water table. In search of food and water, animals may travel huge distances.
A vast portion of Nigeria contains savanna regions. In addition to being a habitat for wildlife, the savanna is also a location for tourist attractions.
Types of Nigerian savanna
1. Derived Savanna
The Derived Savanna is a densely populated biological zone that lies in an east-west belt between the Lowland Rain Forest and the Guinea Savanna. Apart from the remnants of lowland rainforest, the derived savanna is quite similar to the Southern Guinea Savanna in appearance and composition. However, there has been a noticeable decline in the number of plant species, particularly in those locations where man has had a significant negative impact on the woods.
Because of how much man has impacted this region, regions that are allowed to regenerate tend to develop savanna-type grasses, forming a “derived savanna.” It’s possible to find high forest remnants in rocky or upland places that can’t support agriculture.
2. Guinea Savanna
The Guinea savanna, also known as savanna woodland or wooded savanna, is the largest area of vegetation in Nigeria’s middle belt and is made up of both grass and trees. This region gets Between 1000 and 1500 mm of rainfall throughout the course of 6 to 8 months each year. Parkland savanna, gallery woods, and derived savanna are all present there.
Guinea savanna contains tall grasses (1 to 3 m high), and trees (up to 15 m high). Since intense fires in the dry season burn through this vegetation almost every year, this area has plants that are resistant to fire predominate. The parkland savanna is the result of fires and people cutting down trees for hundreds of years. The plants here have adapted to their environment by growing deep tap roots and thick barks that help them survive the long dry season and fires.
Due to the presence of tall grass in this area, there are large animals in this area. It is known that there are a few scattered, towering trees on the Guinea savanna. These trees include shea butter, oil palm, among others. This area consistently experiences yearly fire outbreaks as a result of the weather. The result of this fire is the region’s trees being clearly visible.
In the Guinea savanna, trees do not bloom during a portion of the dry season. The fire starts during the warmest portion of the dry season, destroying the dry grass and preparing the ground for future planting. When the first rain of the year is absorbed, the trees and plants begin to bloom. The trees on the Guinea savanna are deciduous as well, and their bark is clearly hard. The Guinea savanna’s grasses frequently appear green and healthy during the rainy season and brown and parched during the dry.
The application of organic and inorganic manure or fertilizer can control the region’s soil’s low organic matter content and rough-looking surface. The Guinea savanna can be found in Nigeria’s Ondo, Kwara, Osun, and Oyo state, part of the Southwestern states. Kogi, Kaduna, and parts of Benue are among other states.
Lophira lanceolate, Terminalia glaucescens, Daniellia oliveri, Hymenocardia acida, Vitex doniana, Detarium microcarpum, and Afzelia Africana are among the species found in the southern regions of the Guinea Savanna zone. These species all have thick bark that can withstand grassfires.
3. Sudan Savanna
Northern Nigeria is home to the Sudan savanna belt, which spans from the Sokoto Plains to the Northern High Plains of Nigeria to the Chad Basin. It covers a region larger than a fourth of Nigeria, including areas near the states of Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, and Borno. With the exception of the few rainy months, when the relative humidity can reach 60% and beyond, rainfall typically varies from 600 to 1000 mm, and the relative humidity is typically below 40%.
The area has a dry season that lasts for roughly 4-6 months. The region produces significant economic crops such as groundnuts, cotton, millet, and maize; has the highest concentration of cattle in the nation; and has the highest population density in Northern Nigeria.
As a result, man and livestock have greatly impacted the Sudan savanna. The savanna of Guinea is more vegetated than the surrounding area. The predominant plant life is composed of 1-to 2-meter-high short grasses and a few types of stunted trees, including Acacia species, silk cotton, Ceiba pentandra, and Adansonia digitata (baobab).
The extended dry season, which can last up to seven months, is what makes this savanna so famous. The Sudan savanna is a savanna with a variety of short trees, low grasses, and scrubs. These trees include, among others, baobabs, acacias, whales, palms of doom, and white acacias. Acacia trees are surrounded by thorny plants that resemble umbrellas. On the other hand, ruminant animals are always fed on the leaves of the white acacia tree. They likewise lose their leaves in the rainy season and flower in the dry.
The Sudan savanna can be found in Northern Nigeria’s Northwestern, Northeastern, and North Central states. Additionally, there are farmers and nomadic farmers who raise goats, sheep, and cattle. This is due to the area’s ideal conditions for farming and animal husbandry. The farmers there cultivate crops that can yield and produce well in times of drought and aridity. These crops include, among others, sorghum, corn, millet, and groundnuts. These crops can be produced in the Sudan savanna because they don’t need a lot of rainfall. There are grazing animals in the Sudan savanna.
4. Sahel Savanna
The Sahel savanna can be found in the country’s far northwest and northeast, where the dry season lasts more than eight months and the annual rainfall is less than 600 mm. Grasses and a few scattered trees that range in height from 4 to 9 m and are mostly thorny, make up the vast majority of the vegetation in this region.
The northern region of the Guinea savanna is home to the Sahel savanna. The Yobe and Borno states contain a portion of the Nigerian Sahel savanna. The Sahel savanna’s vegetation is perpetually dry. There is not enough rain falling on this savanna. This is due to how brief the rainy season is. Because of this, the plants and grass in the area are constantly short. They consist of vegetation like Acacia radiant and African myrrh.
Trees with somewhat narrow leaves are common in the Sahel savanna. The trees have thorns as well. Additionally, there are a few scattered plants. In the Sahel savanna, fire breakouts are a frequent occurrence. The unusually hot temperature is to blame for this. In this area, the grass and tree leaves are always fresh and green during the brief wet season and quite parched and brown during the dry season. In the event of fires, only the portions of the plants above the ground are damaged. The underground parts of the grass, which continue to grow and sprout during the rainy season, are not hurt.
Animals including antelope, buffalo, elephants, bush cows, and others can be found in the Sahel savanna. Leptodenia, balanites, panicum, date paleste, Pennisetum, stipoides, and numerous more plants can also be found in the Sahel savanna region. Because it doesn’t rain enough in the Sahel savanna, there are often droughts and food shortages.
Nigeria’s savanna region is crucial to the country’s economy. They also supply food for people, so they don’t just feed animals.
The Savanna region supports the vast majority of Nigeria’s stable foods like rice, millet, and maize. The main source of meat in Nigeria is beef or cow meat, the savanna region provides an extensive grazing ground for these animals and surely, the vast majority of the meat or protein consumed in Nigeria comes from the savanna region.
The importance of the savanna region to the survival of the country can certainly not be overemphasized. In this regard, the government must play its part in order to ensure that the savanna and its people are well looked after it wants to avoid a major food crisis in the country.
Information should be distributed to farmers, animal herders, and other stakeholders on a regular basis and when due. This is to alert them to an impending drought, its potential severity, and the precautions that should be taken by the populace to lessen its consequences. application of irrigation methods to completely saturate the region vulnerable to acute drought. Animal herders in this area should use rotational grazing and ranching to prevent overgrazing and appropriately provide pastures for their animals. To alleviate water shortages, more dams, wells, and boreholes should be constructed. Repairs should also be made to the problematic boreholes and shallow wells. The soil’s ability to retain water should be improved by using a crop rotation scheme and applying organic manure. Large-scale implementation of green infrastructure will lessen the effects of drought and water evaporation in the research area. Water recycling and rainwater collection are further measures.
I hope you have found this article useful, let me know in the comments section if you need more clarification.